Mary Lou Retton, during a 2018 interview | SCREENSHOT: Access Hollywood/YouTube

1984 Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton, dubbed ‘America’s Sweetheart’ for her performance at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, is in the battle of her life. The groundbreaking US gymnast has been hospitalized with a very rare case of pneumonia, according to a social media post by her daughter.

Mary Lou Retton, awaiting her score at the 1984 Olympics | SCREENSHOT: Olympics/YouTube

Retton’s daughter, McKenna Lane Kelley, posted on Instagram that Retton “is not able to breathe on her own” and that she had been in the intensive care unit for more than a week.

Another of the gymnast’s daughters, Shayla Kelley Schrepfer, released a video on Instagram thanking people for “all the love and support that you’ve given to my mom.”

“She’s still fighting,” Schrepfer stated. “It’s going to be a day-by-day process, and we hope that you guys will respect her boundaries, as we want to keep the details between her and our family right now. She has been treated with the best of the best professionals here, and it has been such a blessing to have their hands on her.”

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At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Mary Lou Retton became the first American woman to win the all-around gold medal in gymnastics. Subsequently, she also became the first female athlete to be featured on the cover of a Wheaties box, as the nation fell in love with her gritty yet charming performance at The Games.

Mary Lou Retton retired from competition in 1986. Her Olympic achievements made her a household name in the U.S., leading to endorsement deals with several major brands, including Energizer batteries, Revco Drug Stores, and Purex laundry detergent. She also made several film and television appearances, including a stint on “Dancing with the Stars.”


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