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Olympics – 1984 Los Angeles – ABC Jim McKay Profile – USA Mary Lou Retton, ROM Ecatarina Czabo & Julianne McNamara & Bela Karoli


What I love most about this video is the elegant and eloquent was that ABC’s Jim McKay remembers these three tremendous gymnasts at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics….for McKay just had a way of brilliantly saying the right thing…..with a sense of regalness being properly bestowed upon these three princesses of the sport of gymnastics.  I especially like how he ties all three athletes to the coach that turned each of them into who they were….Bela Karolyi.

In 1981, a group of businessmen invited Károlyi to join a gymnastics business venture in luring him out of Romania…..where he had coached Nadie Comanici and Ecaterina Szabo…..two of the best women gymnasts in gymnastics history…..as he decided to invest in the business and relocated to Houston, TX.  The gym ran into financial problems and Károlyi ended up buying it.

Károlyi’s status as “Nadia’s coach” quickly attracted gymnasts to his club. Only three years after his defection….he was at the 1984 Olympics as the individual coach of all-around champion Mary Lou Retton….and uneven bars gold medalist Julianne McNamara….and he had been the coach who developed Ecaterina Szabo of Romania.  Károlyi’s clout in America grew after 1984, and by the time of the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea….as he was influential enough to be made head coach of the women’s Olympic gymnastics team…..but at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics….all three gold medalists….Mary Lou Retton….Ecaterina Szabo….Julianne McNamara….were Bela’s little girls.

Mary Lou Retton (born January 24, 1968) is a retired American gymnast….who at the 1984 Summer Olympics….won a gold medal in the individual all-around competition….as well as two silver medals and two bronze medals. Her performance made her one of the most popular athletes in the United States. 

Ecaterina Szabo (born 22 January 1967) is a Romanian former artistic gymnast of Hungarian descent who won 20 Olympic, world and continental medals….although perhaps most notable for winning the all-around silver in the 1984 Olympics after an epic clash with Mary Lou Retton of the US….as Szabo won gold medals in three of the individual events (vault, balance beam (tie), and floor exercise) and contributed to the team gold. With her four gold medals and a silver medal….Szabo was the most successful athlete at the 1984 Summer Olympics. Afterwards, she led her team to the world title at the 1987 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships….defeating the USSR in the team competition for only the third time in the history of the competition. 

Julianne Lyn McNamara (born October 11, 1965) is an American former artistic gymnast….who was born to Australians Jean and Kevin McNamara…..and was the winner of the U.S. women’s first individual event gold medal in Olympic history at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.


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