Nadia Comaneci: ‘I can’t wait to see who wins the Tumble final’

Legendary Olympic gymnast and Tumble judge Nadia Comaneci tells us what to expect in the spectacular final show this Saturday on BBC1 when Tumble’s celebrity winner will be crowned after a very special performance by the judges themselves…

Will the contestants be more nervous for this last show?
“Certainly! But I expect the six finalists to have improved every week, so hopefully they can handle the nerves and use all their technical knowledge to give great performances. I want them to challenge themselves. I can’t wait to see who wins.”

What will they have to do for the final?
“They’re all going to have to do a routine that combines a floor exercise with the double trapeze. Plus all six celebrities will have to do the vault, so no one escapes it this time!”

The trapeze sounds challenging…
“Oh it certainly will be. It takes a lot of courage to fly through the air like that and trust someone to catch you. I’ve never tried the trapeze myself! Although it’s a circus-style event it has a lot of gymnastic elements, but the timing you need for the catching and the swinging is very different from usual gymnastics routines. The final is going to be very entertaining.”

Are you glad it’s just the public at home voting this time, to decide the winner?
“It will be interesting to see if the audience thinks the same as us judges…”

There have been some surprise performances so far in the series…
“Peter Duncan with the ribbon was amazing, as was Bobby Lockwood with his spaceman trampoline routine! And Carl Froch doing a rhythmic floor routine with a rubber tyre was quite special. It’s difficult to imagine what he could have done with a tyre, as it’s so heavy, so Carl did really well.”

We’ve heard you and the other judges are doing a special cameo performance together on the final night…
“I haven’t performed gymnastics for about 24 years, and I’ll be alongside Louis who’s still competing, and the other judges and the 10 pro gymnasts, so I hope it goes well for me. Hopefully there’ll be no stumbles or mishaps! I still work out a lot and consider myself in good shape, but there’s a difference between that and being what I call ‘gymnastics fit’.”

What do you think Tumble has done for gymnastics in Britain?
“I really hope it’s encouraged youngsters to take up this wonderful sport. In the UK I think gymnastics got a real boost from the London Olympics, and I do think our show has helped raise its profile again, and I’m so glad.”

You recently met President Obama and the First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House. That must have been amazing…
“It was a big celebration for the Paralympics and the White House threw open its doors for the para-athletes and various celebrities, and we all had a beautiful dinner. I have met President Obama before, as well as previous Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush, but it’s always special to go to the White House. Michelle Obama was especially lovely and told me my gold medal performances in the 1976 Olympics inspired her want to be a gymnast, too. But then she said she grew too tall, so she couldn’t follow her dream!”

Would you like to take Tumble to America, where you live now, and also to your home country Romania?
“I’d love it to go to as many countries as possible and I keep mentioning it TV people whenever I meet them. I hope I get listened to!”

The final of Tumble is this Saturday on BBC1 at 6pm featuring Sarah Harding, Carl Froch, Bobby Lockwood, Ian ‘H’ Watkins, Amelle Berrabah and Lucy Mecklenburgh