In an interview with a local news affiliate, 1970s Romanian national team member Emilia Eberle says that Bela and Martha Karolyi physically abused their gymnasts, describing hitting, cutting, scratching and an overall feeling of terror that permeated the Deva gym.
“In one word, I can say it was brutal,” she said.
Kollar said mistakes in training or competition brought physical pain — frequent beatings from Bela Karolyi.
“Nobody’s perfect, so obviously we did mistakes. And we, you know, just got smacked everywhere from Bela — on all our body parts. You know, he has huge hands and it hurts,” Kollar said. “I had blood coming out of my body. I had my ears — my skin ripped behind my ears. I had pus behind my ears, but, you know, nobody seemed to care.”
While awful, this is not exactly new information. Over the years, several Karolyi gymnasts have periodically accused the exuberant Romanian of abuse. What is new, however, is the source who confirms it: Geza Pozar, the choreographer who defected with the Karolyis in 1981 and continued to work with them. Eberle, who changed her name to Trudi Kollar, has worked in Pozar’s gym in Sacramento for the past 15 years, according to the article.
Pozar said Kollar’s story is absolutely true.
“I saw all the activities that went on. Of course I saw the beating and the abuse, you know, as Trudi told you,” Pozar said.
Pozar said Bela Karolyi was large and powerful, and that Kollar was a frequent target.
“Trudi was the most abused, I mean physically. And when he hit her on the back, you can see that big hand, you know, landing on her back. That is something you would never forget,” Pozar said.
Kollar, who is known primarily for having one of the ugliest floor routines ever choreographed (likely by Pozar, who was team choreographer; horrendous as it was, it tied for third with American Kathy Johnson’s stunning classical routine at the 1978 World Championships in Strasbourg, France) refused to discuss her training days in an earlier interview this summer.
Emilia Eberle, 1977 U.S. vs. Romania, Floor Exercise:
What bothers me about this story is that abuse like Eberle describes was probably not limited to Romanian gymnastics. Look at the ever-successful Soviets of the 80s, or the Chinese of today. How many of them are or were subjected to the same treatment?
Speaking of messed up, stuff is happening in Brazil that’s getting much-needed attention on Triple Full and at Gymnastics Coaching. Banned drugs, no less. Maybe that explains why Jade Barbosa looked so out of it in Beijing.