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Nadia Comaneci is an Oklahoman, and now a Hall of Famer too

OKLAHOMA SPORTS HALL OF FAME — Former Olympic gymnast among the 2013 honorees in the sports shrine of her home state.
By Mike Baldwin Published: January 15, 2013
/articleid/3746201/1/pictures/1928276">Photo - Gymnast and Olympic gold medalist Nadia Comaneci is among the seven persons included in the 2013 Oklahoma Sports of Fame Induction Class.  Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb announced the names of the inductees during a luncheon at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013.     Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman
Gymnast and Olympic gold medalist Nadia Comaneci is among the seven persons included in the 2013 Oklahoma Sports of Fame Induction Class. Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb announced the names of the inductees during a luncheon at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

Comaneci, 51, won three gold medals, including two at the 1980 Games in Moscow. Inevitably everyone always asks about the “perfect 10.”

“It's sort of like the first man on the moon,” Conner said. “People know (Neil) Armstrong but don't know other people who walked on the moon. That's her legacy. It separates her and makes her different.

“What's great is she uses that to do other things. She's involved in so many things, including the Laureus World Sports Academy, which does amazing things. They travel the world doing charitable programs, going globally, helping Special Olympics.”

Conner and Comaneci met at the 1976 Olympics. They reconnected in 1991. They were married in 1996. Conner said the “Why Oklahoma?” questions help promote various charities and business interests.

“When we're places in Dubai, Tokyo or Madrid people are shocked,” Conner said. “‘Where?' ‘Oklahoma?' They think some place exotic like Monte Carlo or Paris. One great thing about it she gets to continue the conversation and tell her story. If she lived in a predictable place, the conversation is over.”

Comaneci said she's proud she's the first Romanian in the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and she and Bart are the first husband-and-wife Hall of Fame couple.

Nowadays she doesn't get as many “Why Oklahoma?” questions.

“I used to tell people if they looked at a map it was right in the middle of the United States,” Comaneci said. “But now everybody knows Oklahoma because of the Thunder and their success. I don't know if I'll get ‘Why?' anymore.”


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