[March 27] Martha & Bela Karolyi, Comaneci's coaches, awarded Trophy
Famous former Romanian Gymnastics coaches Martha and Bela Karolyi, the Comaneci's coaches, were awarded on Monday the "Trainer of Legend" Trophy during a festivity in Bucharest. The ceremony was attended by renown sportsmen and former disciples, including former gymnasts : Nadia Comaneci, Anca Grigoras, Georgeta Milea (from Montreal '76 team) and Luminita Milea, Marilena Vladarau.
Martha and Bela Karolyi were trainers of the Romanian women gymnastics team between 1973 and 1981 when the Romanian gymnasts won 18 gold, 12 silver and 10 bronze medals in two Olympiads, two World and three European Championships.
"They are the trainers who made Romania a force of the world gymnastics," said Mariana Bitang, which dropped the long black dress and show up in a (almost too) short green skirt.
Romanian Gymnastics Federation (RGF), Romanian Olympic Comitee and National Sport Agency (headed by Octavian Belu) also awarded trophies to Martha and Bela Karolyi (K&K). For those who know the decades-long resentments between RGF and the KK's, this was a memorable moment; maybe they did hidden slices of lemons in their mouths during the meeting or something. It's both funny and tragic how B&B still rule over all of them and make them do whatever they want to do. Apart from that, the whole ceremony reminds me of some History TV documentaries: Hitler awarding Stalin, Fidel Castro awarding Brejnev, Ceausescu awarding Tito and so on; don't know why these cruel dictators, which ruled by fear, secret police and brute force, came into my mind?...
The Foundation Champions House was founded last July by Romania's world-famous champions like Nadia Comaneci, Ilie Nastase (tennis), Iolanda Balas (high-jump), Ivan Patzaichin (flatwater canoer) and Elisabeta Lipa (rower).
Nadia Comaneci was one of the first students of the Karolyi couple who started to train her since she was three years old. Nadia Comaneci later became the most well-known gymnast in the world, winning five Olympic gold medals and being the first awarded a perfect score of 10 in an Olympic gymnastic event.
Martha and Bela Karolyi defected to the United States during a tournament in 1981. Martha is currently a coordinator trainer of the US women team and they both coach the US gymnastics team for the Olympic Games in Beijing.
During their Bucharest visit, Martha and Bela Karolyi slept in a (former dictator) Ceausescu's villa; something which they couldn't even...dream about, when they defected to United States.
Bela Karolyi: "I was told to myself during the night: if he [Ceausescu]
would know who is sleeping in his bed, he would turn around into his grave; I wasn't one of his favorite".
We would rather think that Ceausescu could be happy about his success in developing a gymnastics program in Romania. He could be angry also because he wasn't awarded any Trophy... since the former dictator was the one who ordered to Romanian sport officials, in the early 70's, to start a highly intense (and abusive) Romanian gymnastics Program, Soviet-inspired. Dictator's wife Elena Ceausescu was a gymnastics fan (according to spy defector Pacepa) and she had supported his husband to build gymnastics clubs and National gym camps around Romania.
"I was looking at recent World Cup events, in Paris and Cottbus. The coaches from these days have a frozen fish -faces during the exercises of their girls" says, in his well known colorful language, Bela Karolyi . "Where is the fun from those Old Good Days?" asked Karolyi.
He must be kidding or something. During KK's "Good Old Days", the girls were so severely beaten that RGF was forced to move the whole program from Onesti to Deva, after local political and administrative leaders in Onesti don't want to have him around any more because of many complains from parents and way too many abuses against children.
During Karolyi's "good days" agents of Ceausescu's secret police were send to look for Nadia Comaneci and bring her back, after she managed to escape somehow from the "Terror camp"... That's sooo far from "having fun" doing gymnastics, isn't so? And if he looks nearby, maybe to Belu's not-so-funny (or even friendly to his athletes) face, then a meeting with Dracula would not be so scaring, except that Dracula was not clever enough to award some Trophies for his image.
Bela Karolyi also said that he use to call Mariana Bitang "The Witch". You can't argue with the Man, he had such a good eye to spot Nadia among thousands of children; he was so deep to spot, 20 years ago, what others have learned only from Marinescu's book or Petrovschi's case...
Looking at the Trophies, we at www.romanian-gymnastics.com still argue on something, we want to : that Trophy (see photos) is:
a) an abusive coach pictured with a stick, ready to beat (again!) a girl, a Romanian Gymnastics Dark Age (KK-B&B age) Memorabilia, or the Trophy is
b) a girl which just took over the stick and is ready to break it and be free?...We can't decide on that, yet :-).
The good thing is that, 30 years later, Nadia is not shaking any more nearby KK's. Hopefully the new generations of Romanian gymnasts will be able to do this (be nearby their coaches and not shaking of fear) sooner?...
[March 25] Cactus Award for Bela Karolyi and wife Martha Karolyi
[March 12] Romanian gymnastics abusive coaches: The Wall of Shame
Romanian Gymnastics News Archive.