Catching Up With Mary Lou Retton
Retton and her contagious smile appeared in that star-spangled leotard on the cover of
Retton and Kelley encourage their children to participate in two activities per semester, as long as they keep their grades up. Three have chosen gymnastics as an activity, but Skyla prefers horseback riding ("Gymnastics is just not my thing," she told her mom).
Retton and her family live in Houston, Kelley's hometown and the former Olympian's adopted home since she moved there in 1982 to train for the Olympics. Though Retton and Kelley are raising a family of Longhorn fans ("We're starting the brainwashing early," said Retton.), Mary Lou still hasn't forgotten her West Virginia roots. "I'm a Mountaineer Texan," she said
Family is the focus of her life these days. She tries to make her motivational speaking engagements 24-hour trips, her goal being to make it to the 2:30 p.m. carpool line the next day. Family time also includes watching gymnastics, especially when the Olympics roll around. The girls took turns wearing Retton's gold medal while watching the 2004 Olympics, and Retton phoned
There's no denying the impact Retton's perfect floor routine and gold medal-clinching perfect vault has had on American gymnastics. "It ignited a tremendous response from the young generations in the U.S. dreaming to be the next Mary Lou," said Retton's former coach,
Much has changed about competitive gymnastics since Retton won her gold medal in Los Angeles. Today's floors are much springier and more forgiving, the equipment is better, and the routines are more complex. "There's such a level of difficulty that it's almost scary," says Retton. "They tumble on that balance beam like they're on the floor."
The hard floors on which Retton tumbled and the constant pounding her lower body endured were partly to blame for the pain she began feeling in her hip in 2000. Retton also has hip dysplasia, meaning her hip sockets did not form properly. Kelley remembers mornings when his wife's lower body would stiffen and she wouldn't be able to walk. In June 2005, Retton underwent left hip replacement surgery. After the pain from the procedure subsided, the ache was gone. "I've got a metal hip now," Retton says with her trademark laugh, "but hey, I stuck that vault."
In October of that year, Retton attended the LSU-Florida football game at the invitation of LSU gymnastics coach