Gymnastics is great base for any sport: Nadia Comaneci
New Delhi: Hitting the right superlatives is a gargantuan task when the person in question is Nadia Comaneci, the Romanian Olympic champion who makes thousands of kids fall in love with gymnastics, millions for her looks, and even more for her personality.
According to her, gymnastics is not just a sport but a way of life.
"Gymnastics is a great base for any sport whatever they decide to do later on," Comaneci said.
Through a programme in Oklahoma, US, the 52-year-old Comaneci "creates opportunities" for the under-privileged, besides being involved with many charitable organisations.
"My foundation`s idea is to create opportunities for under-served kids, kids who have parents who cannot afford or kids who have one parent.
Winner of three Olympic gold medals at the 1976 Games in Montreal, she was the first female gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of 10 in an Olympic event, and it still stands, something that leaves her "happily surprised".
Talking about her academy, the Laureus Academy member said, "You can bring 3-4 year-old kids, there is a mini gymnastic room with colourful equipments, we created something that`s seen in US. It`s a programme that gives opportunity to kids to come and play gymnastics, in
States it`s very popular, it`s really fun for them.
"Something like that doesn`t exist in Romania, it will be a good idea to have one there."
In her pursuit, she is being ably supported by her American gymnast husband, Bart Conner.
"My husband and I have an academy, we have 1400 gymnasts and about more than 30 coaches and we have a programme like where little kids come with their mummy. The mummy looks through the glass as the kids enjoy playing gymnastics."
A member of the gold medal-winning men`s gymnastics team at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and an individual gold winner on the parallel bars, Conner was also the 1979 World Champion on the parallel bars.
Comaneci is not into full-time coaching as she has to travel a lot because of her commitments to various projects across the world.
"All the coaches in our academy are former athletes, for six months we bring a coach from Romania... Most of our kids are local, they don`t come from far away places as in US there are 2500 gymnastic clubs and 4-5 million kids doing gymnastics."
Comaneci is full of positivity and in her own words, one should "appreciate the goodness around you, and surround yourself with positive people".
Coming back to her record, she says she is learning to appreciate it as the years go by.
"They remember the 10 which was history then but I didn`t know at that particular time as I was very young. But as the years go by I appreciate it more and more and I think that I did that."
As modest as she could get, Comaneci said, "Every generation comes with a unique athlete, I don`t think anybody wants to be the next Nadia, they want to be themselves."
But how many can "jump off the beam, flip off the bars" chase their dreams, and reach for the stars, like one of the most celebrated gymnasts of all time would do in her heydays.