Mary Lou Retton


Mary Lou Retton : biography

24 January 1968 –

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. 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.

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. She recovered just in time for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California. In the competition, which was boycotted by the Soviet bloc nations except for Romania, Retton was engaged in a close battle with Ecaterina Szabó of Romania for the all-around gold medal. Trailing Szabó (after uneven bars and balance beam) being 15 hundredths behind, with two events to go, Retton scored perfect 10s on floor exercise and vault–this last event in an especially dramatic fashion, as there had been fears that her knee injury and the subsequent surgery might impair her performance. Retton won the all-around gold medal by 0.05 points, beating Ecaterina Szabo and becoming the first American to receive all-around gold medal.

At the same Olympics, Retton won four additional medals: silver in the team competition and the horse vault, and bronze in the floor exercise and uneven bars. For her performance, she was named Sports Illustrated magazine’s "Sportswoman of the Year". She appeared on a Wheaties box, and became the cereal’s first official spokeswoman. Retton with President [[Ronald Reagan and the U.S. Olympic Team, 1984]]

Medical conditions and endorsements

Retton was born with hip dysplasia, a condition aggravated by her years as a competitive gymnast. After experiencing increased pain she had hip replacement surgery on her left hip in her mid-30s.

 Retton also suffered from incontinence due to an overactive bladder,, "". Accessed 3 October, "". Accessed 4 October 2011. arthritis, and hemorrhoids. She serves as a paid spokesperson for Biomet and for Pfizer to publicize treatment for these conditions. In October 2008, she visited the Biomet facility in Warsaw, Indiana and met the machinists who produced her hip implant.