Getting Into the Olympic Spirit

Olympic years are always busy for gold medalists Bart Conner and Nadia Comaneci, who still actively support gymnastics. But this is an exceptionally hectic time for the pair, who between promotional appearances got married April 27 in a lavish ceremony in Romania, where thousands filled the streets to cheer their “perfect 10.” They haven’t been without a suitcase since, between sponsor obligations, promoting the summer Olympics in Atlanta and--a goal close to their hearts--creating a future for gymnasts when the competitions are over.

“You spend a lot of years becoming a gymnast, developing amazing skills,” says Conner, from his gymnastics school in Oklahoma. “But once you’re done competing, that’s it.” So Conner and Comaneci hope to pioneer a professional gymnastics tour, much like what the Ice Capades did for figure skaters, with music, choreography and a touch of show biz, Conner says. This weekend the public can get a glimpse of what’s to come when the newlyweds join other Olympians in the Olympic Spirit Festival on Saturday and Sunday at Sea World, one of its stops at Anheuser-Busch theme parks, official sponsors of the Olympic Games.

“We’re trying to bring a little awareness and raise a little money for the [Arco] Training Center in Chula Vista,” Conner says of the San Diego stop.

Demonstrations by U.S. Olympians and Olympic hopefuls will go on all day. On Saturday, the Xerox Run for the Gold 10K begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by a fun run / walk.


The spirit of the Olympic Games continues through Labor Day at Sea World, with Olympic Summer Nights. Shamu, sea lions, and world-class skaters and gymnasts are among the performers, topped off by a nightly fireworks show.

Sea World is open 9 a.m.-10 p.m. most weekdays, to 11 p.m. most weekends. $30.95; ages 3-11, $22.95; seniors, $27.85 (enter between now and Sept. 2, get second day free through Sept. 24). (619) 226-3929.