The Russian dominations of women's gymnastics is being threatened by two young schoolgirls -- one fourteen, the other sixteen -- from Rumania.
SV INT Theodore Ungurean on parallel bars, crowd applauding (3 shots)
SV Nadia Comaneci on parallel bars, crowd (3 shots)
SV Comaneci does floor exercise to music PAN TO crowd applauding
Initials BB/0146 MW/MR/BB/0205
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Background: The Russian dominations of women's gymnastics is being threatened by two young schoolgirls -- one fourteen, the other sixteen -- from Rumania.
Nadia Comaneci, at 14 is Rumania's top woman gymnast with a string of international championships and gold medals to her credit.
The Rumanian number two is Theodore Ungureanu, age 16, who hasn't the international experience of her teammate, but has claimed through the Rumanian ranks, and is among the top 10 women gymnasts in the world.
Their aim will be to beat the two Russians, twenty-three year old Ludmilla Tourischeva and nineteen year old Olga Korbut, who up until recently had completely dominated their category of the sport.
Miss. Comaneci came to world notice in April last year, when as the youngest competitor in the history of the tournament she won the Champions All-tournament at Wembley in Britain.
But her best performance came at the European Championships two months later at Skien in Norway when she beat Miss Tourischeve in winning four gold medals, and a silver in the only other class in which she competed.
Miss. Comaneci has beaten every other top woman gymnast except Miss Korbut. The two haven't yet met in competition.
Miss. Ungureanu gave notice of her Olympic medal intentions with a dazzling display in the World Cup Gymnastics competition at Wembley in October last year.
All five gold medals went to Luomilla Tourischeva, but Miss. Ungureanu broke a Russian clean sweep by winning the silver medal in the women's floor sequence. She also attracted attention for her lively performance on the vault, which she approaches with limbs flailing as if running into a headwind.
Experts say the style of Miss Comaneci is very similar to Miss Korbut, who at 17 captured the imagination of the world in winning two individual gold medals at the Munich Olympics in 1972.
Both have a maverick flair, sometimes with a touch of showbiz -- the type of performance that wins the hearts of the crowd, but occasionally fails to impress the judges.
In contrast, Miss. Tourischeva, the most prolific winner of titles in recent years, is a classic gymnast, accomplished and inventive, but restrained.
She will be Miss Comaneci's most formidable opponent, but one that is not unbeatable.