USAG: No complaints about Karolyis

Bela Karolyi has been accused of beating one of his former gymnasts, Romanian Trudi Kollar, who competed under the name Emilia Eberle.

Bela Karolyi has been accused of beating one of his former gymnasts, Romanian Trudi Kollar, who competed under the name Emilia Eberle.

USA Gymnastics has been quick to say that they’ve never had any formal complaints against Bela and Martha Karolyi during the 27-odd years the couple has coached in the United States.

The Karolyis defected from Romania in 1981 and coached around a little bit before settling in New Waverly, Texas, about 80 miles from Houston.

From The Associated Press:

“USA Gymnastics has not received a complaint concerning their conduct from an athlete or parent,” USA Gymnastics said in a statement. “The gymnasts the Karolyis personally coached in the States include Mary Lou Retton, Kim Zmeskal and Kerri Strug, all of whom have spoken positively about their experiences with the Karolyis.”

Neither of the Karolyis could be reached for comment; Martha Karolyi, the current coordinator of the U.S. women’s team, is in Argentina, and Bela Karolyi is in Houston. Bela has no official role with the U.S. team.

But in an interview with Romanian daily Cotidianul, Bela Karolyi did not deny Kollar’s allegations, but said he feels no guilt for anything he did.

“Some of the girls have bad memories. Perhaps others say it was the best time of their lives,” Bela Karolyi told the Cotidianul.

“I tried to be a father before being a coach,” he said, adding he had “a parental attitude” to the Romanian gymnasts.

Strange that for all their talk to the media, the most dissatisfied Karolyi gymnasts, including Chelle Stack, Kristie Phillips and of late Dominique Moceanu, have never filed a formal complaint with USA Gymnastics or the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG).

Maybe there have been too many great champions, too many great moments. Maybe some, like Eugenia Popa, who didn’t work with the Karolyis but acknowledged that the harshness of her regime made her into the gymnast she was, realize that to get the results the Karolyis and Soviets and someone like Nastia Liukin did, you need to be pushed.

There will always be the Shawn Johnson example, the supertalented gymnast who wins Olympic gold on a training diet of about 25 hours per week for the majority of her career and still has time to lead a somewhat normal life. But Johnson is the outlier, not the median.

I’m not saying this to advocate the steps the Karolyis took with their gymnasts. Trudi Kollar’s story is one of abuse and she’s absolutely right to condemn the Karolyis for her experiences. But Olympic dreams aren’t all sunshine, and that goes in any sport. The question is how much pushing is too much, and that seems to be a matter each gymnast (and coach) needs to decide for themselves.

Note: What’s Marta doing in Argentina? Vacationing? Sizing up the Argentinian national team?

Note Two: Kollar says in the AP article that she considered writing a book about her experiences but was dissauded by Karolyi himself, who called Geza Pozar’s gym in Sacramento and told her she’d better “think twice” about it.

Related: Eberle says Karolyi beat her; Pozar confirms

5 Responses to “USAG: No complaints about Karolyis”

  1. Nik Says:

    Martha is at the Pan Pacific games in Argentina.

  2. Karolyi running for Romanian Senate | Gymnastics Coaching Says:

    […] Blythe Lawrence – Gymblog – USAG: No complaints about Karolyis […]

  3. Bela Karolyi announces Romanian Senate run « The Gymblog Says:

    […] The Gymblog News and analysis of men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics « USAG: No complaints about Karolyis […]

  4. Kara Says:

    Anyone who’s been to the top of the sport has worked with both Bela and USAG…They are his lackees! Who would possibly complain to them?

  5. Chelle and Bela « Elite Gymnastics Stars Says:

    […] Associate Press story posted on Gymblog notes that Karolyi students Mary Lou Retton, Kim Zmeskal and Kerri Strug “have […]

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