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Olympic Gold-Winning Gymnast Mary Lou Retton ‘Fighting For Her Life’

Olympic gold medalist gymnast Mary Lou Retton is 'fighting for her life'.
Credit: Alamy

Olympic gold-winning gymnast Mary Lou Retton is ‘fighting for her life’.

The athlete, 55, made history when she became the first American woman to win the all-around gold at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.

Alongside winning the gold medal, Retton also won two silver medals and two bronze medals at the Olympics – all while still a high school student.

Following her success, she was named Sports Illustrated magazine’s Sportswoman of the Year and was inducted into the Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1997.

Unfortunately, news has broken that Retton is currently battling a life-threatening illness.

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McKenna Kelley, who is Retton’s daughter, shared in a post on her Instagram story explaining that her mother has been in the ‘ICU for over a week’.

The post also contained a link to a Spotfund page dedicated to the Olympian – which reveals that Retton is battling a ‘very rare form of pneumonia’.

The message reads: “My amazing mom, Mary Lou, has a very rare form of pneumonia and is fighting for her life.

“She is not able to breathe on her own. She’s been in the ICU for over a week now. Out of respect for her and her privacy, I will not disclose all details.

“However, I will disclose that she [is] not insured.

“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.

“ANYTHING, absolutely anything would be so helpful for my family and my mom. Thank y’all so very much!”

The page aimed to raise $50,000 in funding and at the time of writing, it has already achieved a whopping $399,727.

Mary Lou Retton
Mary Lou Retton has been in the ICU for over a week while battling a rare form of pneumonia. Credit: SpotFund

Retton etched her name in the history books following her performance at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics games.

Her place in the competition was in doubt as she had undergone knee surgery just a few weeks before the games.

Fortunately, she recovered in time and went on to record perfect 10s on the floor and vault to beat Romania’s Ecaterina Szabo by 0.05 points – making her the first Olympian to win an individual all-around gold medal.

Her triumph earned the accolade of Sports Illustrated magazine’s Sportswoman of the Year as well as appearing on a Wheaties cereal box.

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She also won the American Cup all-around competition for the third time before retiring in 1986.

Despite retiring from the sport, Retton stayed in the spotlight and branched out into acting, where she made cameos in programmes such as GleeBaywatch, Knot’s Landing and Naked Gun 33+1⁄3: The Final Insult.

She also competed in the 27th season of Dancing with the Stars – in which she finished in ninth place.

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Written by Rosario Monachino

Rosario is a former content editor at IGV who specialised in film, TV and entertainment news. He has a degree in English and Film from the University of Salford and a masters in Journalism from Liverpool John Moores University.