Home Sports Mary Lou Retton ‘fighting’ for life, daughter says

Mary Lou Retton ‘fighting’ for life, daughter says

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Mary Lou Retton ‘fighting’ for life, daughter says

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Gymnast Mary Lou Retton, who captured America’s attention while winning the gold medal in the women’s all-around at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, is in intensive care and “fighting for her life” in a Texas hospital, her daughter said Tuesday on social media.

Retton has “a very rare form” of pneumonia, Retton’s daughter McKenna Kelley posted to Instagram, and “is not able to breathe on her own.”

Kelley said Retton, 55, has been in intensive care for more than a week.

Kelley started a fundraising campaign on Retton’s behalf for medical expenses, writing that Retton does not have medical insurance.

Retton was just 16 years old when she captivated the gymnastics world and became the first American — in men’s or women’s competition — to win an Olympic medal in the sport. The native of Fairmont, West Virginia, scored two perfect 10s to win gold in the all-around competition — one of five medals, along with two silvers and two bronzes, she won in Los Angeles.

“After Mary Lou, we had to create a new type of gymnast who could impress with her sturdiness, energy and the physicality of her performance,” her former coach, Bela Karolyi, told ESPN in 2012.

Retton had traded the all-around lead with Romania’s Ecaterina Szabo. After a few bobbles on the balance beam (9.80), Retton made up ground on the floor exercise with a perfect 10.0 score and entered her final rotation trailing Szabo by only .050 points.

In that rotation, Szabo scored a 9.90 on the bars, giving her a final score of 79.125 points. Retton headed to the vault needing a 9.95 to tie for the gold but a perfect 10.0 to win outright. “I’m going to stick it,” Retton told Karolyi before the attempt.

She executed a perfect full-twisting layout double and then raised her arms in the air while grinning ear-to-ear prior to her 10.

Retton, The Associated Press amateur athlete of the year in 1984, was inducted into the USOC Olympic Hall of Fame in 1985 and the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1997. She also was the first woman to be featured on a Wheaties box.

Retton, a mother of four, lives in Texas.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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