Retired legendary Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci received an Outstanding Performance award on Thursday at the 2017 Annual Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) Awards in Prague.
“Thank you very much for this amazing honour. I was chatting last night with Mr President Bach and I said: ‘1976 was the year that you won gold medal; can you believe it’s been 41 years ago?’ And he whispered into my ear: ‘Don’t mention how many years.’ I was six and a half when I stepped into a gym, and it was because of my mom, because I had so much energy, like any other child, and she thought that if I destroy too much the furniture I may hurt myself. So, she was happy that a gym was close to our house in a time when not too many opportunities of sports were for women. In a small city, Onesti, in Romania, I started this sport [gymnastics] and I though that’s the best place in the world. I used to sleep with my leotard under my pillow. It gave me the opportunity to travel all over the world, my gymnastic performances, to compete and meet so many people, many of you that I know, and a particular one that many years later I married, and he is here – he’s an Olympic champion – Bart Conner. As Nelson Mandela said in the year 2000: ‘Sport has the power to change the world.’ It did change mine. Thank you very much for this honour,” said Comaneci, the gymnast that has gone down in the history of women’s artistic gymnastics as the first to score a perfect 10.
The winners of the prestigious awards are as follows:
Best Female Athlete from Africa 2017 – Farida Hisham Osman, Eygpt, Swimming
Best Male Athlete from Africa 2017 – Chad le Clos, South Africa, Swimming
Best Female Athlete from the Americas 2017 – Yulimar Rojas, Venezuela, Athletics
Best Male Athlete 2017 from the Americas – 4×400 relay team, Trinidad & Tobago, Athletics
Best Female Athlete from Europe 2017 – Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden, Swimming
Best Male Athlete from Europe 2017 – Marcel Hirscher, Austria, Alpine Skiing
Best Female Athlete from Asia 2017 – Song Yu, China, Judo
Best Male Athlete from Asia 2017 – Mutaz Essa Barshim, Qatar, Athletics
Best Female Athlete from Oceania 2017 – Sarah Goss, New Zealand, Rugby Sevens
Best Male Athlete from Oceania 2017 – Robbie Manson, New Zealand, Rowing
Outstanding Performance 2017 – Nadia Comaneci, Gymnastics, Romania
At the meeting, CIO Chairman Thomas Bach and ANOC Chairman Ahmad Al-Fahad Al Sabah, presented aspects of the Olympic Movement policy for the future, with emphasis on Agenda 2020 and athletes as key actors, focusing on stepping up the fight for equal opportunities and a “clean sport” (anti-doping and anti-corruption), according to the Romanian Olympic Committee (COSR).