Who Is the Crazy, Muttering Romanian Dude on NBC?

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Mar 5, 2008
North America
That's Bela Karolyi!!! He used to coach a LOT of Olympians--Nadia, Mary Lou Retton, Kim Zmeskal and a slew of others. He's amazing!!!! His wife Marta is the coach of the women now.


Jul 5, 2007
I think lanna was being kind of...sarcastic.

Also his opinions yesterday were pretty, um, worthless. He either confirmed really obvious things in a way over-excited tone, or he named off random names that weren't even in context for the question reasonably. Who has a chance for the last spot on the team? "Jana Bieger! Samantha Pesczek! Ivana Hong!...um...um...let me tell you! Chelsea Davis!" That was really random. I wasn't sure whether he was trying to spontaneously start another conversation and they just nipped that in the bud, or what.
Feb 26, 2007
Drove me nuts too, what a waste of money! Paying somebody for commentary who cannot even be understood.

Though I do believe he has lived in the US for over 20 years, maybe that accent is an affectation.

Considering he is not allowed to coach anymore, I find it hard to believe that he is paid for his opinion.


Proud Parent
Mar 9, 2008
Drove me nuts too, what a waste of money! Paying somebody for commentary who cannot even be understood.

Though I do believe he has lived in the US for over 20 years, maybe that accent is an affectation.

Considering he is not allowed to coach anymore, I find it hard to believe that he is paid for his opinion.
How come Bela isn't allowed to coach anymore?????
Mar 5, 2008
North America
LOL--yeah, poor guy. I'm not sure why he isn't allowed to coach either. Any insight on this???
This is kinda random, but has anyone heard the stand up routine from Jon Stewart (I think) about the olympics one year when Bela was coaching...he kept saying "You can do eet!" "I can't do it, but you can do eet!!!". "I don't know about you but when I crack my head on a piece of wood (like the beam) I don't "just go right into my dismount". LMAO
I'll have to find that clip on youtube--It was really funny...


Boy, he was excited about the whole night! I watched both girls nights on my DVR, and I just skipped Bela. Although watching the person stuck with him, trying so hard not to laugh was great. And I don't think Bela caught on he was making fun of him. I have great respect for him, but I don't understand what NBC thought he would bring to the table.
Sep 13, 2007
way out West
Yeah...it's not just the accent. I have friends who are also Hungarian/Romanian and came to the US decades later and still speak more clearly. Maybe he's mixing all of his languages together.

After the 2000 Olympics, it became pretty obvious something needed to change...and I think by the time of Jaimie Dantzcher's well-publicized rant about Bela, he was done.

I think he's great for the sport, and kids get so excited when he is around.

But not for commentary. Poor Bob Costas (who is pretty worthless at a gymnastics meet) looked like he was in pain sitting there next to him.


I thought he was hilarious! I admit he was a bit tricky to comprehend, but not too bad in my opinion. He was so exuberant-I loved it! He plugged Chellsie Memmel about a million times.
Apr 9, 2007
SYDNEY, Australia -- It ends here, with the old ogre squirming in his seat, with him making everyone else squirm in theirs.
It ends here despite all Bela Karolyi has done and because of all he has done. It ends here because it is time the entire focus of American gymnastics ceased being about one man and how loud he can drum on his chest.
It ends here because it is time the whining from him ceased, time the whining about him ceased. He always has been the molder of children, but the thing about Bela Karolyi is that he leaves everyone else sounding like one, too.
This should be the final image of Karolyi, sitting on press row, looking down on USA Gymnastics, this time physically as well as metaphorically. We should remember the way he sat there, shifting uncomfortably in his seat, bobbing and weaving and turning and frowning, wanting nothing more than to rush onto the floor, to take over the show, the way he always has. We should remember how out of place he looked, and how out of time, and we should say farewell.
The problem is not that the American gymnasts finished fourth in the Olympic team competition or that the night seemed so hollow in contrast to the gold-medal finish of four years earlier. That happens. You look at the Americans, and you look at the others, and fourth place seems about right.
The problem is this: As soon as the United States had finished its competition -- even before the Russians and the Chinese were done -- the squabbling began all over again. Karolyi couldn't wait to let you know what a fine job of rescue he had done to lift the team as high as it had been or to suggest how much higher it might have been if the patient had not been so far gone before he was brought in to consult. And the coaches and players couldn't wait to tell you that, frankly, Bela ought to stuff a sock in it.
Such is the state of American women's gymnastics. On one side you have Bela and his ego; on the other side you have individual coaches and an occasional gymnast with enough spunk to speak. And the result is a sandbox with one shovel and a lot of noise.
"We have some very talented girls," Karolyi said. "Very talented. Comparable to '96. But there is no work ethic, no backbone."
Are they lazy? "No, no," Karolyi said. "You cannot blame the gymnasts. They have to be motivated."
And on Karolyi went, talking about the coaches, who he doesn't think motivate; the gymnasts, who he doesn't think are focused; the system, which he thinks is too crowded; the age group, which he thinks is too old; and fourth place, which he thinks is lousy. He doesn't suggest that U.S. Gymnastics put him in charge of the whole deal, but he doesn't mind if you do.
Which brings us to the thoughtful, collected response of gymnast Jamie Dantzscher: Oh, please.
"He gets so much credit," said Dantzscher, miffed that she was not allowed to compete on balance beam. "He gets too much credit. What it is, he takes the credit when we do good and he gives everyone else the blame when we do bad. To be honest with you, Bela wasn't my motivator. He made my confidence go bad."
Dantzscher said other gymnasts agree with her. Which rendered the Bela-in-the-sky argument moot.
Karolyi talked long into the evening about how frustrated he was in the stands, suggesting the team might have medaled if he had been on the floor. And, love him or hate him, it is true that Karolyi's greatest strength has been his motivation.
Once, in 1996, he looked at a gymnast named Kerri Strug, and he said this to her: "You can do it. You can do it. You better do it." And she won gold.
Once, in 1984, he looked at a gymnast named Mary Lou Retton, and he said this: "Now or never." And she won gold.
Once, in 1976, he looked at a gymnast named Nadia Comaneci, and he said nothing. "Eyes," he remembered. "No mouth." She won gold.
With such a history, Karolyi being out of sight, out of mind was an oddity. It was like watching Bill Parcells coach from a skybox or Scotty Bowman from the penalty box.
"Never have I spent the entire competition standing on my butt," Karolyi said, "which is bleeding."
Said Dantzscher: "I've heard him say if he was on the floor, he would have made a difference. No way."
Dantzscher aside, there is little argument over his credentials or his charm. He is a likable sort, even when he is punching you on the shoulder four times in succession to make a point (and, frankly, I was ready to vault). You can argue that he is as important a figure as there has been in the sport.
So why should he go? Because his specialty is coaching individual athletes, which he has said he will not do anymore because of his age. Because he is better with preteen girls, before boyfriends, before they begin to question authority and the rules have changed. And mainly, because of this: because Karolyi is an all-or-nothing-at-all sort of guy. You either turn your entire sport over to him or you let him go back to his ranch and continue without him.
If that happens, understand this: the next step is backward. Despite the way he has berated athletes and grated on coaches, every time he goes away a mad scramble for his throne ensues and leaves the sport looking chaotic and disorganized, and eventually, someone is sending Karolyi a ticket.
That's the real problem. Karolyi has his problems, but the organization has more. If Bela is an addiction, the other coaches are the enablers because they simply cannot go cold turkey. If he leaves, the effects will be felt.
So be it. Let's finish fourth, or sixth, or ninth in a competition or two before a new leader emerges. Eventually, someone will. There are too many young gymnasts in America to believe otherwise.
It ends here. All the debate, all the whining. It is time for a new chapter in American women's gymnastics. Bela has held the reins far too long.
It is time for a dismount.
Apr 9, 2007
Yes I was quoting a news article, sorry I mean to put that at the end but I hit reply too fast and I get lazy about editing stuff :D
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