Legendary gymnastics coach Karolyi to make Kaua’i visit

Most if not all of us remember Kerri Strug’s courageous performance, which led to the U.S.’s first-ever women’s gymnastics team Olympic gold medal in 1996.

The image of legendary coach Bela Karolyi holding Strug as she struggled with her injured leg was implanted in everyone’s mind and now you can see, meet, and greet one of the world’s most renowned gymnastics coaches of all time on Monday, April 3 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“USA Gymnastics asked the gyms in Hawai’i to sell tickets for the Pacific Alliance Championships and the top selling gyms would possibly get a visit from Karolyi as an incentive to sell more tickets,” Kay Leonard, co-owner of the Kaua’i Gymnastics Academy said.

Kay, along with her husband Jack jumped at the opportunity to bring Karolyi for his first-ever visit.

“We had sold a lot of tickets, but not nearly as much to bring him down, but we made a final push and got him to come. I mean how often do you get Karolyi to come out to Kaua’i,” Leonard said.

The Kaua’i Gymnastics Academy will host Karolyi at their Puhi Industrial Park location for an informal ceremony.

Karolyi will make a stop on O’ahu from April 3-5 to help publicize the up-coming Pacific Alliance Gymnastics Championships, which run from April 13-15 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center and the Hawa’i Convention Center. Before his Kaua’i visit, Karolyi will be the guest speaker at the Honolulu Quarterback Club.

Arguably the most successful coach in the history of U.S. gymnastics, Karolyi has 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, Brandy Johnson, Kim Zmeskal, Betty Okino, Strug, and Dominique Moceanu.

He and his wife Martha were a coaching team and although he has retired from coaching, Martha is currently the U.S. Women’s National Team coordinator.

The 2006 Pacific Alliance Gymnastics Championships, one of the sport’s premier international events, show-cases the top male and female gymnasts from the Pacific Rim countries, competing in artistic and rhythmic gymnastics and, for the first time, trampoline. This year’s Pacific Alliance Championships is also one of the first international events to use the sport’s new scoring system.

Tickets for the event are on sale at ticketmaster.com or by calling 877-750-4400.

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