POSTED: October 1st 2009

Chicago ambitions rest on Olympic partners with a difference

Just another face in the crowd: Nadia Comaneci Conner (orange shirt), listening to husband Bart  / ChicagoNews
Just another face in the crowd: Nadia Comaneci Conner (orange shirt), listening to husband Bart / ChicagoNews

KEIR RADNEDGE in COPENHAGEN / Sports Features Communications

OCT 01: Chicago’s strategy to win IOC favour for its 2016 Olympic host bid has finally been revealed: Wife Power. But . . . not only that of the White House Wife but of another wife with a name and reputation which will always carry a longer-lasting resonance within the world of the five rings: Nadia Comaneci.

Nowadays she is Mrs Bart Conner, married to one of the United States’ medal-winning gymnasts. But she has been here in the Danish capital, preaching the gospel of the Windy City “as any other devoted wife.” Her words.

Michelle Obama would surely not have put it any better in seeking to bend subjective sentiment to the IOC members’ minds as they weigh up a vote for Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro or Tokyo.

Chicago paraded 22 Olympic and Paralympic medal-winners in public support of their cause while the bid’s leaders worked the locked-down hotel suites behind the scenes.

All but one were US winners; Comaneci Conner won her own nine gymnastics medals and achieved those breathtaking perfect 10s, of course, for Romania. Not only that but, as she volunteered: “I won my medals much longer ago than any of these others.”

The ‘others’ included a wide spread of medallists from athletes Michael Johnson and Jackie Joyner-Kersee to Brandi Chastain who not only won soccer gold but whose shirt-ripping celebration prompted one of the sport’s iconic images.

Explaining her role as more than stardust, Comaneci Conner added: “I have lived in the United States since 1991 and became a Chicagoan and I was asked to advise the bid about the best way for Chicago to make the athletes happy.”

Husband Bart led a chorus of confidence about Chicago’s potential to be a “strong partner for the IOC” in inspiring young people around the world.

But that theme was taken one significant political step further by weight-lifter Bill Scherr. His stress was on Chicago’s ambition to be “a good partner and good citizen in the Olympic movement.”

These were intriguing words indeed at the climax to a campaign featuring some frosty moments in the relationship between the American and Olympic families.
The decisive potential within those families of Wife Power – in all of its many guises, of course - will become evident at 6.30pm local time Friday.

Keywords · Chicago 2016 · Olympic bids · IOC

For more information contact:
Laura Walden ()

All original materials contained in this section are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Sports Features Communications, Inc the owner of that content. It is prohibited to alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.