Nadia Comaneci, the Romanian gymnast who made Olympic history by earning seven perfect scores and three gold medals in the 1976 Montreal Games, will perform tonight with six of her Olympic teammates at the University of Maryland's Cole Field House starting at 8 p.m.
During their five-city tour, the Romanian team will be joined by American gymnasts, including Silver Spring's Stephanie Willim, who hopes to challence Comaneci for the all-around Olympic title in the 1980 Moscows Olympic Games.
This is the first U.S. tour for the Romanian team, which had been scheduled for a performance at Cole in March. An undisclosed illness forced Comaneci to withdraw and the team's trip was subsequently canceled because of earthquakes in Romania.
Comaneci, who will turn 16 Oct. 26, won Olympic golds in the balance beam, uneven bars and all-around competitions. She also took home a silver in floor exercises and a bronze as a member of the Romanian team.
A good deal of the drama at the 1976 Olympics centered on Comaneci as she almost effortlessly dethroned the Soviet Union's Lyudmila Tourischeva as all-around champion and stole the spotlight from Tourischeva's teammate, Olga Korbut.
It was from Korbut, who captured the public's heart in the 1972 Olympics with some daring and graceful routines that comaneci borrowed parts of her repertoire.
Comaneci stunned the gymnastics wolrd by earning the first perfect (10.0) score in Olympic history, requiring readjustment of the scoring computer since it was not programmed for such a possibility.
She went on to six more perfect scores, to the disbelief of the Olympic community. But Comaneci, who has since won the European Gymnastics Cup, was unawed, saying that she had earned perfect scores 19 other times.
The Romanian gymnasts accompanying Comaneci are Christina Itu, Gabi Gheorghlu, Marlena Neacsu, Emilia Eberle, Marilena Vladaru and Ofelia Iosub.
Willim, 13, was too young to compete in last year's Olympics, but is being touted as a contender in the 1980 Games.
Earlier this year, she defeated two 1976 U.S. Olympians and a Pan American gold medalist in the Mardi Gras Invitational tournament and won all-around honors at the national AAU Gymnastics Championships.
Last month in Japan, she won a gold and two silver medals, finishing second in all-around. Her performances prompted the Soviet Union to invite her to train for a month in Moscow.