Gymnast came to fame during 1984 Olympics

Gymnast came to fame during 1984 Olympics

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Gymnast came to fame during 1984 Olympics
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American gymnast icon Mary Lou Retton is “fighting for her life,” McKenna Kelley, one of Retton’s four daughters, revealed on Tuesday.

“My amazing mom, Mary Lou, has a very rare form of pneumonia,” Kelley wrote on Spotfund, an online fundraiser raising donations for Retton’s medical expenses. “She is not able to breathe on her own. She’s been in the ICU for over a week now. Out of respect for her and her privacy, I will not disclose all details. However, I will disclose that she not insured.”

Retton catapulted to international fame during the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles after she became the first American woman to win a gold medal in the all-around competition. The feat not only landed her on the front of a Wheaties box, but captured the hearts of many Americans.

“Thank you for putting dreams, goals and the ability to know my strength in life! I love gymnastics and kindness because of you!” one person who donated to Retton’s fund wrote. The fundraiser has surpassed its $50,000 goal, reaching more than $72,000 as of Tuesday evening.

Here’s everything to know about Retton:

MARY LOU RETTON: U.S. Olympic and gymnastics icon is ‘fighting for her life’

How old is Mary Lou Retton?

Retton was born January 24, 1968 and is currently age 55.

Where is Mary Lou Retton from? 

Retton is from Fairmont, West Virginia.

She said her interest in gymnastics was sparked by Romania gymnast Nadia Comăneci’s gold-winning performance at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Retton moved to Houston to train with gymnastics coaches Béla and Márta Károlyi, who also trained Comăneci in Romania.

How many Olympic medals does Mary Lou Retton have?

Retton is five-time Olympic medalist. She won the all-around gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics at age 16 to become the first American woman to be named an Olympic all-around champion. Retton won in dramatic fashion, scoring perfect 10s on floor exercise and vault to defeat Romania’s Ecaterina Szabo by 0.05 points after undergoing an operation on her knee just six weeks prior to the Olympics.

She also picked up a silver medal on vault and bronze medals on the uneven bars and floor exercise, in addition to another silver Olympic medal in the team event.

Retton, whose five medals at the 1984 Olympic Games were the most won by any American athlete, become a national treasure and one of the country’s most popular athletes. She was named the Sports Illustrated’s “Sportswoman of the Year” in 1984. 

She was the only American Olympic all-around champion until Carly Patterson (2004, Athens), Nastia Liukin (2008, Beijing), Gabby Douglas (2012, London), Simone Biles (2016, Rio de Janeiro) and Suni Lee (2021, Tokyo).

When did Mary Lou Retton retire from gymnastics?

Following the 1984 Olympics, Retton went on to win the American Cup all-around competition in 1985. It marked the third and final time she won the American Cup after previously winning in 1983 and 1984.

“Winning that meant more to me than anything I think, really, in my career, because even going into the Olympics I was a relatively unknown gymnast, and I wasn’t supposed to win (in Los Angeles),” Retton told NBC Sports in 2016. “The pressure was never on me. I was always the underdog. And then going into ’85 American Cup, I was supposed to win. That’s a whole different mindset.”

She retired from the sport in 1986 ahead of the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, a decision she said she was “ready” for. She was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Hall of Fame in 1985 and the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1997.

“I knew that I was not going to be one of those athletes that’s just hanging onto the sport and couldn’t retire, couldn’t let it go,” she told the outlet. “I wanted people to remember me as a winner and as a champion and not some struggling older athlete that just can’t let it go. That was important to me.”

Following her gymnastic career, Retton made numerous TV and film appearances, including “Knots Landing” (1992), “Baywatch” (1993), “Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult” (1994) and “Glee” (2010). She also appeared on season 27 of “Dancing With The Stars” and is a motivational speaker and television analyst.

Does Mary Lou Retton have children?

Retton was married to former University of Texas quarterback Shannon Kelley from 1990-2018. They share four daughters together: Shayla, 28; McKenna, 26; Skyla, 23; and Emma, 21.

All of her daughters followed in her footsteps. Shayla is a former member of Baylor University’s Acrobatics and Tumbling team, McKenna competed for the LSU Tigers gymnastics team, Skyla is a competitive cheerleader and Emma currently competes for the University of Arkansas gymnastics team.

Retton’s daughter McKenna made the revelation about her mother’s illness on Tuesday.


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Gymnast came to fame during 1984 Olympics

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