The Karolyi Secret Police File Project
After the 1976 Games Nadia Comaneci refused to train with husband and wife team Bela and Marta Karolyi. This surprised the communist regime in Romania who now possessed the brightest star of the Games. The Romanian government wanted to know why. In December of 1976 they initiated “Operation Olympia,” which launched a multi-year investigation into the Karolyis by the Romanian Securitate, the secret police agency of the Socialist Republic of Romania. Over that time the Securitate tapped phones, spoke with informants, pulled government documents, interviewed colleagues and much more.
For more than a year GymCastic has been collecting these files, transcripts, handwritten notes and more from the Securitate archives in Romania; and over the coming weeks and months we will share the new revelations these documents uncover, exposing new truths and debunking long-held beliefs.
We have the receipts and we’re ready to set the record straight. Welcome to Project K.
Support the Project
For more than a year GymCastic has been working with a journalist in Romania to collect files, transcripts, handwritten notes and more from the Securitate archives in Romania. There are many costs involved in doing this, and this project has only been possible with the support of our Club Gym Nerd members. If you value the work we’re doing, please consider joining. If that’s not enough, Club Members Get First Looks at the Releases! To see all the benefits, including extra podcasts and more, click the button below.
How it Started
On July 18, 1976 Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci made history. During the Montreal Games while competing on the uneven bars she scored the first perfect 10 in Olympic history. A feat so unexpected that the Omega scoreboard was incapable of registering the result and instead posted a 1.0, unable to shift the decimal point. With hindsight this symbol of seeing one thing and hearing another is an accurate metaphor for our misunderstanding of all that was happening at the time. Behind that routine things weren’t perfect for Nadia; and over the years much of the oral history that has been told by her coaches, husband and wife team Bela and Marta Karolyi, have not been true. Worse are the stories they didn’t tell. We will.
Nadia would be perfect six more times in Canada on her way to collecting five Olympic medals: three golds for all-around, uneven bars and balance beam; a silver for her team medal; and a bronze for floor exercise. Nadia’s performance was a tipping point for the sport, inspiring generations. While greats get eponymous skills named after them, Nadia’s name has become synonymous with the sport itself. That success also propelled the popularity of the coaches standing behind her.