Nadia Comaneci inaugurated the “Nadia Comaneci Arena” in Onesti

From FRG

It´s the longest day….not only in the calendar, but also on the agenda. On the middle of the 21st of June page, an appointment is written in huge letters: “15:30 – Nadia Comaneci Arena inauguration”

There is still time left until 15:30 – about 30 minutes and 100 autographs. Today, time is clearly measured like this: in autographs and in Nadia photos. In the center of the former Onesti gymnastics hall, Nadia is smiling and signing, signing and smiling. To Lavinia. To Sorina. To Andreea. Andreea Puiu is strongly hanging on to the precious autograph. “It´s the first time I see her. I´m very happy as Nadia was the greatest gymnast in the world.” says the 12 year old member of the Junior National team.

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She´s Perfect

When I was little, the road to the gym seemed endless. It was long and the steps were small.” Nadia remembers smiling slightly, like the little girl she used to be. Now not only the steps are bigger, so is the gym. Another gym, one that bears her name. “I´m extremely excited.” tells us the Montreal goddess, who now also looks like a goddess: beautiful hair, seductive smile, model like style, tight dark gray dress, 10 cm heels, tasteful earrings and a very small golden cross necklace. Although she will be 50 in November, Nadia is perfect. The title from Time Magazine´s issue, 35 years ago, still stands. The huge cover brought by a group of “Nadia Comaneci” Sports School students proves it.

The event started with the national anthem, followed by a religious service. Nadia was given a gold medal to celebrate 600 years since Bacau was first mentioned in an official document. “I return happily to my home town, 25 years since the construction of this gym began and 35 since I won the Montreal competition. I want to thank the coaches and the Romanian Gymnastics Federation, my team mates, from whom I learned what team spirit is. I also want to thank Cristian Topescu for his heartfelt commentaries. Thank you to Mr and Mrs. Simionescu, who created the gymnastics school back in the 60s. I really hope you can watch beautiful competitions in this arena.” declared Nadia, honorary President of the Romanian Gymnastics Federation.

Surprisingly, the huge letters “She´s Perfect” are actually covered by the crowd. More than a thousand people came to see Nadia inaugurate the new arena. In the crowd, a number of famous people, from Cristian Topescu to Anca Grigoras, Doina Melinte, Narcisa Lecusanu, Nicolae Vieru, Andreea Raducan and Otilia Badescu. Gica Hagi also joins the group: “I could not miss an event like this, it´s my first time in Onesti. Nadia did it!”

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The capital of gymnastics

Emil Lemnaru, the town´s mayor, reminds everyone that the 21st of June is truly the longest day. A day which started…26 years ago. The project for the Onesti arena started in 1985, but got stuck because of lack of money. The construction started again in 1993 but got delayed until now. The arena has a 1500 seating capacity and a 1154 meters competition surface. It also includes locker rooms, rehabilitation halls, bathrooms, kitchen etc. It can hold competitions for any indoor sport from gymnastics, judo, boxing to handball, volleyball, badminton, basketball or tennis. It´s also provided with modern equipment like video surveillance and it was financed by the National Investment Company and the town hall. “In 2000, we asked Nadia if she would accept giving her name to this arena.” says Lemnaru.

Dragos Benea, Bacau´s president, named Nadia Honorary Citizen of the Region, offering her a graphical work of art with Bacau´s symbol, the salt mountain in Targu-Ocna and two Ioan Chirila “testimonials”. He added: “Today, Romania celebrates Onesti and its daughter. At Montreal, Nadia beat technology and made Onesti the capital of gymnastics.

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“Give me a beam, not a microphone!”

It´s Nadia´s moment and she makes a beam like entrance: ” I´d rather you gave me a beam instead of this microphone, I´m so nervous!” The landing is perfect, as always: ” I´m very happy to be back in the town where I was born, which has now an arena bearing my name.” And such an arena could not be inaugurated but by going back in time. On the arena´s screens, the Montreal images start to pour and the crowd is applauding and enjoying today as much as back then at seeing the perfect routines and that unique number which replaced the impossible 10 with a very suggestive 1. Like the Nadia on the screens, Nadia gets up and salutes the crowd. She is back home, in Onesti, a place she never actually left.

The young gymnasts of the “Nadia Comaneci” Olympic Center in Onesti performed for the public Nadia´s 1976 perfect routines. “Onesti finally has the arena it deserves. Gymnastics has always been at its highest level here, we have the youngest talents and Romania will surely be back on the international podiums” said Vasile Popa.

Translated by Romanian Gymnastics Fans

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