Thu. Jul 25th, 2024
Mary Lou Retton

Renowned Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton is currently battling a severe and uncommon form of pneumonia, as confirmed by her daughter, McKenna Kelley.

In a heartfelt message posted on Spotfund, Kelley revealed that her 55-year-old mother, Mary Lou Retton, is presently reliant on life support in the intensive care unit (ICU), where she has been receiving treatment for over a week. Kelley refrained from disclosing any further specifics regarding her mother’s condition, except to mention that she lacks medical insurance.

“We kindly request your support in any way possible; firstly, through your thoughts and prayers, and secondly, if you could contribute financially to assist with the hospital expenses,” wrote Kelley in her post.

Mary Lou Retton achieved legendary status during the 1984 Olympics. At just 16 years old, she had already gained recognition as a prominent gymnast after securing victories at the American Cup in 1983 and again in 1984. Despite encountering multiple injuries in the lead-up to the Los Angeles Games, she managed to secure a place on the U.S. Olympic team. This included an injury to her knee during a floor routine at a local gymnastics center and another knee injury while signing autographs. She had to undergo knee surgery just five weeks before the commencement of the Games.

Making a remarkable recovery shortly before the 1984 Summer Olympics, Retton competed fiercely in the all-around category against Romania’s Ecaterina Szabo. With perfect 10 scores in the floor exercise and vault, she edged past Szabo by a mere 0.05 points, ultimately clinching the gold medal in the all-around competition. This victory marked her as the first American woman to secure an Olympic all-around championship, a feat not previously achieved by any woman outside of Eastern Europe.

In addition to her gold in the all-around competition, Retton also claimed silver medals in the team and vault events and a bronze in uneven bars and floor exercise, accumulating a total of five medals at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

This triumph catapulted Mary Lou Retton to global fame and played a pivotal role in popularizing gymnastics in the United States. An article by Grace Lichtenstein in The Washington Post from 1985 reported that Retton’s coach, Bela Karolyi, experienced a threefold increase in gym enrollment following her win. She even graced the cover of Wheaties cereal boxes after her victory.

Subsequent to her gymnastics career, Mary Lou Retton ventured into television commercials and made an appearance on the popular show “Dancing with the Stars.” She also served as an advisor on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness during President George H.W. Bush’s administration.

McKenna Kelley is one of Mary Lou Retton’s four children with her former husband, Texas quarterback Shannon Kelley. Following in her mother’s footsteps, McKenna Kelley pursued a career in gymnastics, competing for LSU. Her impressive performances led to her earning three NCAA Championship silver medals as a key part of the LSU team in 2016, 2017, and 2019.

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