Nadia Comăneci: I’m planning a cameo for the Tumble finale

"Wish me luck!" says the five-time Olympic champion who also admits she'd like to try the aerial hoop - without anyone watching

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Tumble’s head judge Nadia Comăneci is known as “boss” on set of the gymnastics-themed reality show and is well known for her own sporting success, but she’s got her eye on a new discipline – the aerial hoop.

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The celebrity contestants have already been trying their hand at the gravity-defying discipline, well known to fellow judge and Cirque du Soleil pro Sebastian Stella. But while they’ve had to get their head around it and perform live on TV, Comăneci tells RadioTimes.com, “I want to try the aerial hoop… but I want to try it when no one is in sight.”

Quite. If we had a choice, we’d do it without the cameras, too.

“I’ve never done it, but it looks cool to do it. I want to see how it is. But I want to make sure there are not people in there laughing at me when I do something like that. Get the cameras out,” she laughs. 

Fellow judge Craig Heap has already done a vault on the show (“A terrible vault!” Comăneci laughs), Louis Smith has performed and Seb is expected to take the stage tonight, which just leaves Comăneci.

“I think we’re planning a little bit of a cameo for the finale – wish me luck!”

Perhaps if she gets her hands on a hoop before then, she can incorporate that? Comăneci is certainly not afraid to put the hours in, revealing that when she was in full-time training as a gymnast, she used to have a balance beam in her house.

“At some point I had a beam in the hallway of my house from the bedroom all the way connecting to the kitchen. It was just fun. For a period of time I had that. I remember that, for the beam, you’re getting good on the beam because you’re spending a lot of time on it. You have to get comfortable with it.”

This week contestants have been getting beam lessons with the Olympian, and she says viewers shouldn’t brush it off as easy.

“I think that when you watch gymnastics on TV you’re like, ‘Oh, that looks easy’, but just going on a beam, even sitting on a balance beam doing nothing is scary.

“I’ve done gymnastics many, many, many years and even for me, I go back on a beam and it takes time to reconnect with that,” Comăneci says.

The risk of injury is certainly present thanks to the show’s format, which can see the contestants do anything from a back somersault to a vault, but Comăneci says “the added risk brings something that’s new to the show”.

“The celebrities want to go for difficult stuff, but they have good coaches next to them. They know exactly how far to push themselves.”

And it’s good for viewers too, says Comăneci, who hopes the show will spread to other countries.

“This is a very different and unique show. Our celebrities range from 20 to 60 years old. It’s good. People who are watching it will go, ‘Oh my gosh, he’s 60 and he can do that!’ It’s also the appreciation of what people can do in a particular time in their life. I don’t think there’s a limit to what you can do at any age. Just try to see what your body can do.”

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Tumble continues Saturday at 6:00pm on BBC1