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Bela Karolyi Biography

Early Life In Romania, Recognition In Competition, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments, Olympians, DissatisfactionSELECTED WRITINGS BY KAROLYI:


Romanian gymnastics coach

Visionary Romanian-born coach, Bela Karolyi, revitalized the field of elite women's gymnastics competition during the 1970s and 1980s. The sport, which was traditionally dominated by women in their late twenties, became a bastion of underage ingenues under Karolyi's watchful eye. By introducing very young girls to the sport and providing them with intensive training he introduced new displays of power and athletic movement to the traditional spins and aesthetic twists that were normally seen in competition and that were limited by the larger size and limited flexibility of older competitors. Karolyi added new leaps, flips, and contortions consistent with the lithe lightness of younger gymnasts.


(With John Powers and Mary Lou Retton) Mary Lou: Creating an Olympic Champion, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1986.

(With Nancy Ann Richardson) Feel No Fear: The Power, Passion, and Politics of a Life in Gymnastics, New York: Hyperion, 1994.

Sketch by G. Cooksey

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsGymnastics