1996 Olympic Games, Atlanta, Georgia USA Women's Olympic Coach
1992 Olympic Games, Barcelona, Spain U.S. Head Coach
1988 Olympic Games, Seoul, South Korea U.S. Head Coach
1984 Olympic Games, Los Angeles, Calif. USA U.S. Individual
1980 Olympic Games, Moscow, USSR Head Coach of Romanian Team
1976 Olympic Games, Montreal, Canada Head Coach of Romanian
Bela Karolyi, 2000 USA
Gymnastics Women's National Team Coordinator
Bela Karolyi was born
September 13, 1942, in Cluj, Romania. He has become the most
successful coach in the history of gymnastics. His coaching
efforts have produced 28 Olympians, nine Olympic Champions,
15 World Champions, 12 European medalists and six U.S. National
Champions in 30 years of coaching gymnastics in both his native
Romania and the United States.
Among his most accomplished gymnasts are Nadia
Comaneci, Mary Lou Retton, Julianne McNamara, Phoebe
Mills, Kim Zmeskal, Betty Okino, Kerri Strug and Dominique
Bela and his wife, Martha, defected to the United
States during an exhibition tour in 1981. He worked menial
jobs to support them at first, but within one year they were
coaching gymnastics once again in Oklahoma. Shortly thereafter,
Bela was approached by a group of businessmen with an offer
to coach at a private
gym in Houston. When the group faced financial difficulties
in October of 1982, Karolyi convinced them to sell the gym
to him. He then built the gym into a cornerstone of the American
The results speak for themselves. In 1991, he
led the U.S. team to a silver medal finish at the World Championships,
the first team medal the U.S. women had ever won in World
Championships competition. His gymnast, Kim Zmeskal, also
won the all-around title, again the first time a U.S. athlete
had ever won a World Championships all-around title.
The following year, Bela led the charge to the
1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, where the United States captured
its first medal in eight years. The team bronze medal was
also the first time since 1948 that the U.S. had won an Olympic
team medal in a non-boycotted Olympics.
After the 1992 Olympic Games, Karolyi announced
his retirement from elite level coaching, but still maintained
and summer camp.
In 1994, Zmeskal asked Bela to assist in her
comeback attempt for the 1996 Olympic Games; he could not
refuse, announcing his return to the elite coaching ranks.
That same year he co-authored his life story in a book titled
Feel No Fear.
In addition to Zmeskal, Karolyi coached Dominique
Moceanu and Kerri Strug, who went on the win the team gold
medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. Along the way,
Moceanu became the youngest athlete to win the U.S. National
Championships at the age of 13, and claimed a silver medal
on the balance beam at the 1995 World Championships.
In 1996, Strug won the McDonald's American Cup,
earning Bela his 11th champion in the prestigious event.
Bela was recently named women's national team
coordinator for USA Gymnastics. In addition to Karolyi's
World of Gymnastics, Bela and Martha own a 500-acre ranch
outside of Houston which is used as a summer
training camp. They have one daughter, Andrea.
The text of this page is a copy, with permission, of the official
USA Gymnastics biography."
Romanian Gymnastics News Archive.