Bart Conner

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Bart Conner
Olympic Gold Medal Swimmer Mark Spitz Chats with Olympic Gymnast Bart Conner (28705844332).jpg
Bart Conner (right) talking with Mark Spitz at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro
Personal information
Country represented  United States
Born (1958-03-28) March 28, 1958 (age 59)
Hometown Morton Grove, IL
Height 5'6"
Discipline Men's artistic gymnastics
College team University of Oklahoma
Head coach(es) Paul Ziert

Bart Conner (born March 28, 1958) is a retired American Olympic gymnast. As a member of the men's gymnastics team at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games, Conner won two gold medals. He currently owns and operates the Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy in Norman, Oklahoma, along with his wife, Romanian Olympic gold medalist Nadia Comăneci. In addition, both Comăneci and Conner are highly involved with the Special Olympics.[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

Conner was born on March 28, 1958, and grew up in Morton Grove, Illinois.[3] He first became involved in gymnastics at school and his local YMCA. He was later on the gymnastics team at Niles West High School, where he graduated in 1976.[4]

He later attended the University of Oklahoma to work with coach Paul Ziert on the gymnastics team.[5] He eventually graduated from OU in 1984, where he was an All-American and won the 1981 Nissen Award as America’s best gymnast.[6]

Gymnastics career[edit]

He won the 1972 U.S. Junior National Championships when he was 14 and the U.S. Gymnastics Federation All-Around championship when he was 17, and was the youngest member of the Olympic team during the 1976 Summer Olympics.[3] He also won a team all-around gold medal at the 1975 Pan American Games.[6]

Although he qualified for the 1980 Summer Olympics, he did not participate due to the boycott.[7] Four years later, in the 1984 Summer Olympics, he won two gold medals for the team all-around and for the men's parallel bars.[3] His win on the parallel bars helped "the U.S. win its first men's Olympic gymnastic gold medal in 80 years."[8] He also demonstrated an original move called the "Conner spin” during the 1984 Olympics.[6]

Honors[edit]

Conner is a highly decorated gymnast who has won “medals at every level of national and international competition.” Some of his honors include “induction into the USOC Olympic Hall of Fame (1991), the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame (1996), Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame (1997), and the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame (1997).”[3] While Connor did not compete in the 1980 games, he was one of 461 athletes to receive a Congressional Gold Medal many tears later.[9]

Nadia Comăneci[edit]

On November 27, 1989, Nadia Comăneci, a Romanian gymnast Conner had met at the 1976 Montreal games, defected from Romania with a group of other Romanians. In January 1990, when Conner read in the newspaper that she was scheduled to be interviewed on The Pat Sajak Show, he contacted the producer and arranged to make a guest appearance on the show.[10] Conner liked the idea of surprising Comăneci: "I'm thinking if she's going to be on Sajak, I might as well go out there and say, 'Hey, Nads,' " [10]

Later in 1990, Conner interviewed her for ABC. A few months later, Conner was invited to her 29th birthday party, after which they developed a long-distance friendship for a few years. When a mutual friend died an accident in 1991, Conner invited Comăneci to come to Oklahoma to help him run a gymnastics school. They were together for four years before they became engaged. On April 27, 1996, Conner and Comăneci were married in a ceremony in Bucharest that was televised live throughout Romania. Their wedding reception was held in the former presidential palace.[11] In an interview years later, Comăneci recalled that the experience "was very emotional, not just seeing my mother but seeing an entire country I’d left. When I got married in Bucharest there were 10,000 people on the street. People didn’t go to work that day. It was emotional to see how people care about you." [12] Conner and Comăneci have one child, a son named Dylan Paul Conner who was born on June 3, 2006, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.[13][14]

Books[edit]

  • Conner, Bart with Paul Ziert. Winning the Gold. Warner Books, 1985.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nadia Comaneci, Global Ambassador
  2. ^ On Mats, Bars and Boards, Bart Conner and Nadia Comaneci Lead by Example
  3. ^ a b c d "CONNER, BART (1958– )". Oklahoma Historical Society. 2009. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  4. ^ Goldwyn, Nick (September 6, 2011). "Q & A with Bart Conner, Olympic Gold Medalist". Niles West News. 
  5. ^ Bailey, Dean (August 13, 1984). "Bart's Trials Conner Says Conflict Preceded Golden Feats". The Oklahoman. 
  6. ^ a b c "Bart Conner". SR Olympic Sports. Archived from the original on 2016-06-22. 
  7. ^ Caroccioli, Tom; Caroccioli, Jerry. Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. Highland Park, IL: New Chapter Press. pp. 243–253. ISBN 978-0942257403. 
  8. ^ "1984 Summer Olympic Games". Los Angeles Times. 
  9. ^ Caroccioli, Tom; Caroccioli, Jerry. Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. Highland Park, IL: New Chapter Press. pp. 243–253. ISBN 978-0942257403. 
  10. ^ a b Rohde, John (January 24, 1990). "Bart Gets The Scoop On Nadia". The Oklahoman. Retrieved August 19, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Nadia Tumbles over Wedding" Cincinnati Post, April 6, 1996
  12. ^ Rebecca Hardy (August 1, 2014). "The terrifying day I defected: She was the golden girl of gymnastics at just 14 – before fleeing Romania for the States. Now, Nadia Comăneci tells her full harrowing story". DailyMail. 
  13. ^ "Nadia Comăneci, Bart Conner Have a Boy People, June 6, 2006
  14. ^ "Former Gymnasts Nadia Comăneci and Bart Conner Baptized Their First Child, Dylan Paul" Catalina Iancu, Jurnalul National, August 28, 2006

Cited sources[edit]

External links[edit]

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