The secret 'humiliation' of Romania's star gymnast Comaneci
Behind the glamour and success, beatings and humiliation: a new book about Romania's legendary gymnast Nadia Comaneci delves into the archives of the feared communist-era Securitate secret police that record the abuse she suffered even while being feted for her sporting glories.
[...] The reports they wrote speak of the "attitude of terror and brutality" displayed by Karolyi towards Comaneci and his other charges. "The girls were hit until their noses bled and punished through physical exercises to the point of exhaustion", wrote an informant in 1974.
According to the reports, Karolyi made a habit of calling the gymnasts "fat cows" and "pigs", while also taking part of the prize money they won at international competitions.
The coach responded to critics, saying, "By nature I am never satisfied: it's never enough, never. My gymnasts are the best prepared in the world. And they win. That's all the counts."
In the book, Comaneci's own words are reported in the form of a 1977 interview with two journalists which was never published but ended up in the Securitate files due to the bugging of her home in the city of Onesti.
In it she confirms having been repeatedly "insulted" and slapped, deprived of food for three days and scolded for putting on 300 grams of weight.
"Too many things have happened (…), I can't even look at him anymore," Comaneci is recorded as saying about Karolyi.
Karolyi was himself the object of surveillance by informants, who painted him as "manipulative" and "unmoved by human suffering".
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