PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh has hosted dozens of NFL playoff games. World Series titles have been decided here, and the same goes for college and pro hockey.
But next summer, the gymnastics national championship is coming to town. And that has brought one of the legends of the sport, coach Béla Károlyi, to Pittsburgh this week.
“Remember, we are still the number one-watched television event during the Olympic Games,” said Károlyi. “This is so important for us to know how people appreciate the performance of these young athletes.”
Károlyi deserves a lot of credit for that.
“This is the sport, probably the only sport, which is quite amazingly combined the grace, the music, the beauty and the particular opportunity to express yourself,” says Károlyi.
For decades, Károlyi coached the world’s finest female gymnasts.
He was the coach for gold medal-winner Nadia Comăneci. Then, after defecting to the United States in 1981, he trained champions Mary Lou Retton and Kerry Strug at his gym in Houston.
He was hard on them, demanding perfection at every turn. Yet they ran to him when the routine was done.
“People are asking me, “Why you are so excited at the end of the routine?’ How in the world do I not be excited? Fifty percent is my performance,” he says. “I’ve stayed there just like the kids have stayed there – day and night, during the weekends, no vacation, no nothing. I’m into it. I’m putting… I’m invested in the interest of mine.”
Watch Béla Károlyi’s Appearance on PTL:
Now retired, Károlyi is promoting the P&G National Gymnastics Championship coming to CONSOL Energy Center next summer.
“Now, with the coming up national championship, there is going to be a unique opportunity to boost the number of participants in the clubs, boost the interest for the sport of gymnastics. I think [it] is a very, very important moment,” says Károlyi. “Besides, we are bringing the reigning world champion.”
And perhaps inspire the next generation of champions in the process.