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THE COURT BELONGS TO CHRIS
Sarah Pileggi
December 20, 1976
From Olympian and other heights came the candidates: Klammer and Comaneci, Young and Jenner, Nicklaus and Morgan, Dr. J and Tony D. If it was a very good year for men, it was a spectacular one for women. For the 21-year-old on the opposite page it was a year of such distinction that she became the outstanding athlete of them all. Because she dominated her game as no other man or woman did in any sport, she is Sportswoman of the Year for 1976.
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December 20, 1976

The Court Belongs To Chris

From Olympian and other heights came the candidates: Klammer and Comaneci, Young and Jenner, Nicklaus and Morgan, Dr. J and Tony D. If it was a very good year for men, it was a spectacular one for women. For the 21-year-old on the opposite page it was a year of such distinction that she became the outstanding athlete of them all. Because she dominated her game as no other man or woman did in any sport, she is Sportswoman of the Year for 1976.

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By the completion of the Montreal Games, the 14-year-old Romanian had won gold medals in the uneven bars, the balance beam and the all-around event, a silver in the team competition and a bronze for her individual floor exercise. In the process she picked up six more 10s.

Tiny Nadia, pony-tailed Hero of Socialist Labor, had changed the look of women's gymnastics forever.

"When she can flawlessly exceed the most hazardous degree of difficulty in the point book," says one expert, "the judges have no choice but to give her a 10."

She smiled little. She cried not at all. Comaneci captivated with her skill alone.

At 7:45 on the evening of July 22 in Montreal, East Germany's Kornelia Ender mounted the block at the head of Lane 4 in the swimming hall for the start of the 100-meter-butterfly final. The starter's gun cracked and one minute .13 seconds later she had won her third gold medal of the Games and had equaled her own world record.

Ender rested on that particular laurel for exactly 25 minutes, and then she was at the start again, this time for the 200-meter-freestyle final against her American rival Shirley Babashoff. "For a year I trained to keep up with Shirley," she said. "And what I had extra, I would add it on at the very end." Which is what she did, in one of the best races of the 1976 Olympics. The two swimmers remained within inches of each other for 150 meters, and then, with the "extra," Ender pulled away for a world-record 1:59.26 and her fourth gold medal.

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