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Celine’s favorite Olympic memory

An epic gymnastics moment completely flipped out Celine Dion.

She was 8 when she witnessed Nadia Comaneci’s historic perfect 10 on the uneven bars on July 18, 1976, in the Montreal Olympics.

"I was watching, and she almost changed my destiny," the Caesars Palace headliner said in an interview with the Review-Journal.

"I was so much in love with her strength, her dedication, her hard work," Dion said. "I wanted to be just like her. It was not only about gymnastics. It was her whole demeanor."

Then 14, Comaneci won three gold medals for Romania in 1976 and two more in 1980.

Dion said she "just loved the whole thing around and about her, and then my destiny took over and led me into music, which, don’t get me wrong, I’m very, very happy (about)."

It wasn’t the only time Comaneci left Dion speechless. Twenty years later, almost to the day, Dion met her hero.

Dion was at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics preparing for her performance in the opening ceremony July 19. She was in her hotel room with her husband and manager, Rene Angelil, when there was a knock on the door. "I opened the door … and she was there. It freaked me out," Dion said.

Angelil had set up the surprise introduction, complete with a camera crew to record it. It was a "10" moment.

"Meeting someone you looked up to for so long. In a way she changed my life," Dion said.

Dion, in her second-to-last run of the year at Caesars Palace, is here until Aug. 19. She returns Dec. 28.

HILL’S HENDERSON CONNECTION

Las Vegas-bound country star Faith Hill has a Henderson connection.

Her first singing idol was Tanya Tucker, a 13-year-old Henderson resident when her debut song “Delta Dawn” soared to No. 6 on the Billboard Country Singles Charts in April 1972.

She mentioned Tucker in response to a question about her earliest hero during Tuesday’s press conference to announce the upcoming 10-week December-to-April run with her husband Tim McGraw at The Venetian.

Hill, who grew up in Star, Miss., population 500, has said her first gig was singing "Delta Dawn"  at a 4-H luncheon.

Tucker was asked a few years ago when she was when she first heard "Delta Dawn."  

"I was in Henderson, Nevada, at 207 Navajo Drive," she told a Texas radio station. "I was sitting inside my dad’s ’67 Chrysler station wagon listening to WBAP Fort Worth — Bill Mack After Midnight, and that was the very first time I heard it on the radio. Me, my mother and my dad were sitting there in the car when it came on. It was really something I’ll never forget as long as I live!"

SIGHTINGS

Music icon Herbie Hancock, taking in Dion’s show Wednesday. … Former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona, now an ESPN analyst, at Gold Boutique Nightclub & Lounge (Aria) on Wednesday evening. … Former President Bill Clinton, who has gone vegan, went with a healthy option – pan-seared tofu – during dinner at Spago (Forum Shops at Caesars) on Tuesday with a large group. … Soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, swarmed by so many female admirers at The Bank (Bellagio) after Sunday’s Real Madrid-Santos Laguna matchup that he and his teammates were moved to a more secluded location, according to the New York Post. He was with a group of teammates that included Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira. Ronaldo’s girlfriend, Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover girl Irina Shayk, was in Sardinia on a shoot.

THE PUNCH LINE

"A German Olympic diver did one of the worst dives ever and got a score of 0.0. He tried to save face halfway through the dive. He yelled, ‘Cannonball.’ " – Conan O’Brien

Norm Clarke can be reached at 702-383-0244 or norm@reviewjournal.com. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com. Follow Norm on Twitter @Norm_Clarke.

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