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Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner in Marriage of Olympic Gymnasts.

April 26, 1996 GMT

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) _ Nadia Comaneci, the Romanian gymnast who dazzled the world with her perfect 10s at the 1976 Olympics, married former U.S. gold medalist Bart Conner in a civil ceremony Friday.

About 2,000 fans gathered in the streets to watch the proceedings on a giant television screen as Comaneci, 34, and Conner, 38, exchanged vows at the capital’s stylish Army Club.

Inside, the crowd of 200 select guests included Romanian tennis great Ilie Nastase, who is running for mayor of Bucharest.

After Comaneci, it was Connor’s turn to take the marital vows.


``Do you, Bart Wayne Conner, take Nadia Comaneci to be your lawful wife?″ the city hall clerk asked Conner.

Conner answered in Romanian ``Yes, I do,″ but only after the clerk repeated the question in English, causing laughter among the guests present in the club’s opulent marble-plated main hall.

After the groom kissed the bride, both signed the city hall register to seal their marriage.

Comaneci gained fame at 14 when she swept to the all-around title at the 1976 Montreal Games, becoming the first gymnast in Olympic history to score a perfect 10 _ not once, but seven times.

In the 1976 and 1980 Olympics, Comaneci won nine medals, including five gold. She retired after the 1981 World University Games.

Comanenci defected to the United States in 1989, fleeing across the border to Hungary just weeks before the revolution that toppled Nicolae Ceausescu.

In the United States, a romance flourished with Conner, who won two gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics in the team event and parallel bars.

The couple live in Oklahoma, training young gymnasts.

For the wedding, Comaneci was dressed in a light grey Giorgio Armani two-piece suit, while Conner wore a grey suit and white shirt.

Shortly after the ceremony, the city hall official handed Comaneci a diploma declaring her an honorary citizen of Bucharest.

Later, the couple moved to a balcony to greet their cheering and waving fans.

``I shall never forget you all were here with me today,″ Comaneci told the crowd.

Speaking in near-fluent Romanian, Conner asked the crowd to ``accept me as one of yours.″

``I’ve been following her since she was a child, since she made us feel the world sees us through her great gymnastics performances,″ 73-year old pensioner Dorina Vasile said as she moved closer to the police cordons to see the wedding party leave in three black limousines.

Larry Decker, one of Conner’s guests, said he came all the way from Las Vegas to see the couple get married.

``Very few couples have so much in common as Nadia and Bart,″ he said.

On Saturday, the head of the governing party, Adrian Nastase, will lead Comaneci to the altar at a Romanian Orthodox church in central Bucharest.