Years after their first naive kiss at the Olympics, Bart, and Nadia were reunited once again and sparks were flying. Bart recalls the first kiss they shared on the winner’s podium with Nadia. They performed together in several gymnastics competitions and looked inseparable.
It began with an innocent kiss, and now it grew into so much more. In 1994, just several years after they reconnected, Bart Conner proposed to Nadia Comăneci while the two were vacationing in Amsterdam.
Fortunately for the close gymnastics community, Stefu offered Nadia to stay with him and his family. Sadly, not long after Nadia moved in, Stefu died tragically in a snorkeling accident and Nadia once again had to find where to go.
Paul Ziert, a friend of Bela Károlyi offered her a place to stay in Norman, Oklahoma. Paul was also the gymnastics coach of Bart Conner. Everything was starting to come full circle.
After he met her on the Pat Sajak show, Conner gave Comăneci his phone number. Although Comăneci was at first dubious of Conner’s intentions, she figured that Conner was just a nice guy. The two spoke on the phone every once in a while over the next year and a half until finally, Conner invited Comăneci to come to Oklahoma to open up a gymnastics school with him.
They had so much in common as far as their athletic background and the decipline required to be an olympic gymnast. It must have been comforting for Nadia. Maybe she finally met someone she could trust.
In April 1996, Nadia and Bart tied the knot in Bucharest, Romania. Because the communist government had since been overthrown, Nadia had no reason to worry. In fact, the pair were treated much like royalty. The new Romanian government didn’t care about her defection years ago. Nadia and Bart were allowed to use the Parliament House for their wedding reception, which was an extremely luxurious celebration. According to Sports Illustrated, it was “the gymnastics world’s version of a royal wedding.”
Nadia commented about the event that “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." The pair has now been married for 22-years, and they have a 12-year-old son named Dylan together.
Comăneci’s wedding seemed like a national holiday in Romania. Over 10,000 people came out in support of the couple, and people all over the country tuned in to watch the wedding ceremony, which was broadcasted live on national television. For Comăneci, it was very emotional being back in her home country.
She felt like she had betrayed her home country and she was feeling so bad about doing so. Now, seeing all of the support caused her to feel loved and forgiven.