Gymnastics : Comaneci laments Romania's Rio no-show

Thu Aug 4, 2016 3:49pm EDT
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By Pritha Sarkar

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - When Nadia Comaneci takes her seat at the Rio Olympic Arena on Sunday, she will be able to sit back and follow the women's gymnastics competition untroubled by the pent-up tension she usually feels.

That went flipping and somersaulting out of the window long before she headed for Rio to celebrate the 40th anniversary of her 'perfect 10' as, for the first time since 1968, her native Romania failed to make the cut for the team final.

"There will be a big hole in my stomach (on Sunday) when I won’t see my team," Comaneci told Reuters in an interview.

"It’s like someone important is missing from a party because you can’t imagine an Olympic gymnastics competition without Romania."

That is certainly true for a country used to showcasing perfection in the sport ever since Comaneci landed the first 10.0 score during the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

Romania has scooped a team medal at every Olympics since 1976, including gold in 1984, 2000 and 2004, but that remarkable four-decade streak in women's gymnastics ended in bitter tears as they followed up a doomed outing at last year's world championships by also flopping at the Rio test event in April.

"When one member of the team got injured, it started a chain of bad luck as the others were left really shaken and then they just panicked," the 54-year-old Comaneci said.

"...One girl got injured, then one girl fell off bars and then you couldn't stop the mistakes."   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Gymnastics training - Rio Olympic Arena - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 04/08/2016. Close up of the feet of Rebecca Downie (GBR) of United Kingdom as she trains on the beam.  REUTERS/Dylan Martinez