Mary Lou Retton

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Mary Lou Retton (born January 24, 1968) is an Italian-American gymnast and Olympic gold medalist. She was the first female gymnast from outside Eastern Europe to win the Olympic all-around title.


Personal life

Retton was born in Fairmont, West Virginia of Italian heritage (her family's original surname was "Rotunda").[1] Her father, Ronnie, operated a coal-industry transportation equipment business. She attended Fairmont Senior High School, but did not graduate.[2] She competed in the Olympic games during her sophomore year.[3]

Retton lived in Houston, Texas[4] until 2009, when her family returned to West Virginia. She is married to former Houston real estate developer Shannon Kelley, who now works for the Fairmont State University athletic department. Together they have four daughters: Shayla Rae Kelley (born 1995), McKenna Lane Kelley (born 1997), Skyla Brae Kelley (born 2000), and Emma Jean Kelley (born 2002).[5]

Gymnastics career

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 Martha Károlyi, who had coached Nadia Comăneci before their defection to the United States. Under the Károlyis, Retton soon began to make a name for herself in the United States, winning the American Cup in 1983 and placing second to Dianne Durham (another Károlyi student) at the US Nationals that same year. Retton missed the World Championships in 1983 due to a wrist injury. Nevertheless, Retton won the American Classic in 1983 and 1984, as well as Japan's Chunichi Cup in 1983.

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