Bart Conner

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Bart Conner
— Gymnast —
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 58)
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 an 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" Norman, Oklahoma along with his wife, Romanian Olympic medalist Nadia Comăneci.

Early life and education[edit]

Conner was born on March 28, 1958 and grew up in Morton Grove, Illinois.[1] He first became involved in gymnastics at school and his local YMCA. He later was on the gymnastics team at Niles West High School (which he graduated from in 1976).[2]

He later attended the University of Oklahoma to work with coach Paul Ziert on the gymnastics team.[3] He eventually graduated from OU in 1984, where he was an All-American and won the 1981 Nissen Award as America’s best gymnast.[4]

Gymnastics career[edit]

He won the 1972 U.S. Junior National Championships when he was 14, 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.[1] He also won a team all around Gold medal at the 1975 Pan American Games.[4]

Although he qualified for the 1980 Summer Olympics, he did not participate due to the 1980 Summer Olympics boycott. During the 1984 Summer Olympic Games, however, he won two Gold medals for the Team All-Around and for the Gymnastics at the 1984 Summer Olympics – Men's parallel bars.[1] His win on the parallel bars helped "the U.S. win its first men's Olympic gymnastic gold medal in 80 years."[5] He also demonstrated an original move called the "Conner Spin” during the 1984 Olympics.[4]

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).”[1]

Nadia Comăneci[edit]

In January 1990, Olympic gymnast Nadia Comăneci was scheduled to appear on the The Pat Sajak Show to discuss her defection to the United States. Conner learned about the interview and contacted Sajak stating that he wanted to be on the show as well.[6] Conner first met Comăneci in March 1976 at the American Cup (gymnastics) in Madison Square Garden, New York when he was 18 and she was 14. They both won a silver cup and were photographed together. A few months later, they both participated in the 1976 Summer Olympics which Comăneci dominated while Conner was a marginal figure. Conner later stated that "Nobody knew me, and [Comăneci] didn’t certainly pay attention to me."[7] Conner, who hadn't seen her since this meeting in 1976, wanted to surprise Comăneci: ""I'm thinking if she's going to be on Sajak, I might as well go out there and say, "Hey, Nads,' " [6] He was thus invited to appear on the show, but had to arrive in Los Angeles by the time taping would begin at 5pm. His plane arrived at LAX at 4:40pm and he was flown by helicopter to CBS Studios, landing by the time of a commercial break. After appearing on the show with Comăneci and Panait, he spoke privately with Comăneci in the green room. After their joint appearance, Conner and Comăneci did not see each other again for awhile.[6]

Later, while she was living in Montreal, Comăneci once again reconnected with Conner and they eventually became engaged in 1994. Both Conner and Comăneci later modeled for Jockey International.[8][9]

They traveled together to Romania that same year for the first time since her defection (and since the fall of Communism and Ceaușescu's death). Comăneci married Conner in Bucharest on April 27, 1996. The ceremony was broadcast live in Romania, and the reception was held in the former presidential palace.[10][11] In an interview years later, she recalled, "It 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]

They welcomed their only child, a son named Dylan Paul Conner, on June 3, 2006, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.[13][14]

Book[edit]

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

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "CONNER, BART (1958– ).". Oklahoma Historical Society. 
  2. ^ Goldwyn, Nick (September 6, 2011). "Q & A with Bart Conner, Olympic Gold Medalist". Niles West News. 
  3. ^ Bailey, Dean (August 13, 1984). "Bart's Trials Conner Says Conflict Preceded Golden Feats". The Oklahoman. 
  4. ^ a b c "Bart Conner". SR Olympic Sports. 
  5. ^ "1984 Summer Olympic Games". Los Angeles Times. 
  6. ^ a b c Rohde, John (1990-01-24). "Bart Gets The Scoop On Nadia". The Oklahoman. Retrieved 2016-08-19. 
  7. ^ "The Adorable Way This Olympic Couple First Met". Oprah: Where Are They Now?. 2016. Retrieved 2016-08-19. 
  8. ^ CHRONICLE
  9. ^ Star Gymnasts Bart, Nadia Call Norman Home
  10. ^ Legends: Nadia Comăneci International Gymnast magazine
  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

External links[edit]