Who is Mary Lou Retton? Everything to know about the American gymnastics icon

American gymnast icon Mary Lou Retton is "fighting for her life," McKenna Kelley, one of Retton's four daughters, revealed on Tuesday.

Who is Mary Lou Retton? Everything to know about the American gymnastics icon

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.

At the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984, Retton became the very first American woman to take home a gold medal in the everywhere competition, establishing Olympic history. Lucy achievement won her a spot on the front of a the Wheaties box, and it also 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’

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?

Five Olympic medals have been won by Retton. Being the first American woman to win the gold medal in the all-around category at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, she made Olympic history. She was 16 years old at the time. 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 the vault and bronze medals on the uneven bars and floor exercise, in addition to another silver Olympic medal in the team event.

She made her retirement from the sport official in 1986 saying she was ready to do so before the Seoul Olympics in 1988. She was honored in the United States Olympic Committee Hall of Fame in 1985 and the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1997 respectively.

Before Carly Patterson (2004 Athens) Nastia Liukin (2008 Beijing) Gabby Douglas (2012 London) Simone Biles (2016 Rio de Janeiro) and Suni Lee (2021 Tokyo) she was the only American to win the all-around Olympic gold medal.

Regarding her retirement, Mary Lou Retton concluded her gymnastics career after the 1984 Olympics. In the following year, she continued to display her exceptional talent by winning the American Cup all-around competition in 1985. This marked the third and final time she achieved this prestigious accolade after previous victories 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.”

In 1986, she officially announced her retirement from the sport, stating her readiness to step back even before the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Her remarkable achievements led to her induction into the Hall of Fame of the United States Olympic Committee 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 who 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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