People Who Kick Buts: Mary Lou Retton
Working hard becomes a habit; you will get self-satisfaction from pushing yourself to the limit, knowing that all the effort WILL pay off.
- Born January 24, 1968.
- She was the first female gymnast from outside Eastern Europe to win the Olympic gold medal in the Gymnastic Individual All-around competition.
- Mary Lou Retto was born in Fairmont, West Virginia, of Italian heritage (her family’s original surname was “Rotunda”). Her father, Ronnie, operated a coal-industry transportation equipment business. She attended Fairmont Senior High School, but did not graduate.
- She competed in the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles, California during her sophomore year of high school.
- Retton lived in Houston, Texas until 2009, when her family returned to West Virginia and again moved back to Houston in 2012. She is married to former University of Texas quarterback and Houston real estate developer Shannon Kelley, who now works for the Houston Baptist University athletic department. Together they have four daughters.
- Inspired by watching Nadia Comăneci on television, Retton took up gymnastics in her hometown of Fairmont. She was coached by Gary Rafaloski. She then decided to move to Houston, Texas, to train under Romanians Béla and Márta Károlyi, who had coached Nadia Comăneci before their defection to the United States.
- After winning her second American Cup, the US Nationals, and the US Olympic Trials in 1984, Retton suffered a knee injury when she was performing a floor routine at a local gymnastics center. She had sat down to sign autographs when she felt her knee lock, forcing her to undergo an operation five weeks prior to the 1984 Summer Olympics.