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The 55-year-old gold medalist is in intensive care and unable to breathe on her own, according to her daughter.
Olympic gymnastics champion Mary Lou Retton is “fighting for her life” in an intensive care unit, according to her daughter McKenna Kelley. Retton, who won five medals at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, has been diagnosed with “a very rare form of pneumonia” and has been in the ICU at an undisclosed hospital for more than a week.
Kelley, a former gymnast at Louisiana State University, shared the news on her Instagram story on Tuesday afternoon, asking for prayers and donations to help with her mother’s medical bills. “Out of respect for her and her privacy, I will not disclose all details,” Kelley wrote. “However, I will disclose that she not insured.” She added: “We ask that if you could help in any way, that 1) you PRAY! and 2) if you could help us with finances for the hospital bill.”
Retton became a household name after winning the first individual Olympic gold for an American woman in gymnastics.
Retton, 55, became a national icon after her historic performance at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. She won more medals (5) than any other athlete during those games. Her icon status was solidified when Retton scored perfect scores on the vault and floor routine en route to becoming the first US woman to earn an Olympic gold in the individual all-around event. She also won two silver medals and two bronze medals in other events.
Retton’s success sparked a surge of popularity for gymnastics in the United States and inspired generations of young athletes. She was the first woman to appear on the front of a Wheaties box and was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportswoman of the Year in 1984. She also appeared in several films and TV shows, such as Scrooged, Baywatch, and Dancing with the Stars.
Retton was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1997 and was the first woman to be selected into the Houston Sports Hall of Fame in 2020. She also served on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports under US President George W Bush.
Fans and fellow gymnasts express their support and prayers for Retton.
As the news of Retton’s illness spread, many fans and fellow gymnasts took to social media to express their support and prayers for her recovery. Among them were Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson, Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, and Dominique Dawes. They praised Retton as a trailblazer, a legend, and a role model for women’s gymnastics.
Kelley thanked everyone for their love and kindness in a follow-up Instagram story on Wednesday. She said her mother is “still fighting” and asked for continued prayers. She also shared a link to the fundraising site Spotfund, where people can donate to help with Retton’s medical expenses. As of Wednesday morning, more than $200,000 had been raised out of the $500,000 goal.
We hope that Mary Lou Retton will recover soon and wish her and her family all the best.