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Better on beam: Simone Biles in 2016 or Nadia Comaneci in 1976?

Simone Biles posted a 15.633 in beam qualifying.Dylan Martinez/REUTERS

Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci received a perfect 10 on the balance beam in 1976, performing a flawless routine free of even the slightest hint of a balance check. The then-14-year-old became the first female gymnast to receive a 10 at the Olympics, notching seven perfect scores en route to three gold medals.

Today’s Olympic scoring system is vastly different, as athletes now start with a maximum number of points based on the difficulty of their routines, then face deductions from an execution score based on any mistakes the judges find in their performances. The final score for each apparatus is the sum of the excution and difficulty scores.


So while American superstar Simone Biles will not be able to match Comaneci’s perfect 10, the 19-year-old still earned the highest score on balance beam in qualifying in Rio, posting a 15.633. A slightly wobbly performance in the team final gave her a 15.3, but her routine was nonetheless impressive.

Comaneci dazzled with graceful, fluid movements and unmatched steadiness. But it’s the power Biles brings to the beam that’s been exciting the crowds in Rio. And then there’s her signature beam dismount — the most difficult dismount in the world — that consists of two back handsprings along the beam before jumping backwards off the end, before a twisting dismount complete with two flips.

Here’s a look at Biles’s routine from Tuesday’s team final:

And here’s Comaneci’s routine in 1976:

Emily McCarthy can be reached at emily.mccarthy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilymccahthy.