On a national and international level, Bela and Marta have become the most successful women’s national and international gymnastic coaches in the history of America. Their overall coaching efforts have produced 28 Olympians, nine Olympic Champions, 15 World Champions, 12 European medalists, and six U.S. National Champions in 30 years of coaching in both their native Romania and in the U.S. Those who watched the Olympic gymnastics women’s team in Atlanta, GA, 1996, will not soon forget seeing Kerri Strug limping back from the vault apparatus after injuring her leg and receiving a low score. Bela was beside her, and few, if any persons except Bela and Kerri will know exactly what they discussed. In any case, Kerri gritted her teeth and made her second jump, landing perfectly on one leg. Whatever was said in the Bela-Kerri meeting at the end of the runway, it capped a Longines “Perfect 10 Moments in Time”.
Bela and Marta Karolyi defected from their native Romania to the U.S. during an exhibition tour in 1981. At first, Bela worked at a series of menial jobs to support them, but within a year, they were coaching gymnastics in Oklahoma. It wasn’t long before they became owners of a private gymnastics club in Houston, TX, and began their rise to prominence in the world of U.S. gymnastics. They have shared one another’s successes on an equal basis; hence, they were inducted as a coaching team. Among the athletes they coached were Dominique Dawes, Phoebe Mills, Betty Okino, Kerri Strug, Mary Lou Retton, and Kim Zmeskal, all of which have been inducted into the U.S. Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Nadia Comaneci is an inductee into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. They coached Nadia Comaneci, who was inducted into the International Gymnastic Hall of Fame.