Olympic Icon Mary Lou Retton’s Urgent Battle: Fighting Severe Pneumonia at 55

Olympic Icon Mary Lou Retton Fights Severe Pneumonia: Urgent Appeal for Support

Olympic legend Mary Lou Retton, renowned for her remarkable athletic achievements, is now confronting a harrowing battle against severe pneumonia. In a heartfelt plea on a crowdfunding platform, Retton’s daughter, McKenna Kelley, disclosed the grim reality of her mother’s condition. Let’s delve into the details of this critical situation.

 Mary Lou Retton
In a heart-wrenching post on Tuesday, McKenna Kelley, daughter of Hall of Fame gymnast Mary Lou Retton, provided a dire update on her mother’s health. Mary Lou, an Olympic gold medalist, is grappling with a rare and life-threatening form of pneumonia, rendering her unable to breathe without external support. She has been under intensive care for over a week, and the situation remains precarious.

While exact details regarding Mary Lou Retton’s current medical facility remain undisclosed, it’s known that the 55-year-old athlete, originally from West Virginia, resides in Houston. In an appeal posted on her verified Instagram account, Kelley has reached out for assistance with the mounting medical bills, as her mother lacks medical insurance.

Kelley emphasized the urgency, saying, “ANYTHING, absolutely anything, would be so helpful for my family and my mom.”

 Mary Lou Retton

Mary Lou Retton made history with her perfect 10 score at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, becoming the first American woman to clinch a gold medal in gymnastics. Her extraordinary performance that summer garnered her a total of five medals, including silver medals in the team and vault competitions and bronze medals for uneven bars and floor exercise. Notably, the 1984 Olympic Games were boycotted by the Soviet Union, making Retton’s achievements even more remarkable.

Beyond her athletic success, Mary Lou Retton transitioned into various roles, from a sports commentator to an actor, contestant, and even movie roles. Her impact on the world of gymnastics led to her induction into the Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1997.


After retiring from elite gymnastics, Retton served as a board member for USA Gymnastics, facing controversy for defending the organization during the Larry Nassar sexual assault case. In 2017, Retton and USA Gymnastics officials met privately with Sen. Dianne Feinstein to discuss the organization’s athlete protection policies. Both of Retton’s daughters, McKenna and Emma Jean, followed in her footsteps, pursuing gymnastics careers and competing in NCAA Gymnastics.

 Mary Lou Retton

In 2019, Retton and her daughter McKenna made a joint appearance on the TODAY show, showcasing their connection to the sport. McKenna, who competed for Louisiana State University, played a pivotal role in her team’s success at the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships.

Addressing the pressing issue of the sexual abuse scandal and the safety culture within USA Gymnastics, Retton called for a ground-level reform. She stressed the importance of creating a culture of acceptance and safety to protect young athletes in this beautiful sport.

Since the distressing news of Mary Lou Retton’s hospitalization broke, Kathy Johnson, her Olympic teammate and NCAA Gymnastics commentator, shared a heartwarming photo of their embrace at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics on a prominent social media platform. This gesture symbolizes the enduring camaraderie among athletes who leave an indelible mark on the world of sports.

In conclusion, Mary Lou Retton’s current battle with severe pneumonia has ignited a call for support from her daughter, McKenna Kelley. This iconic Olympian, famous for her historic achievements, now requires collective assistance during a challenging time. The sports world unites in sending thoughts and prayers to a remarkable athlete and her loving family.


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