Mary Lou Retton: Where is she now?

Photo by: Andy Hayt/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images
Mary Lou on the floor-
The pint-sized gymnast-- she's 4'9"-- was made of solid muscle. One of the 5 medals Mary Lou took in Los Angeles was a bronze ... more 
Photo by: Andy Hayt/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images
Mary Lou on the floor-
The pint-sized gymnast-- she's 4'9"-- was made of solid muscle. One of the 5 medals Mary Lou took in Los Angeles was a bronze for floor exercises. less 
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Thu, Oct 6, 2011 3:26 PM EDT
I remember exactly where I was when 16-year-old Mary Lou Retton made her spectacular perfect-10 vault at the 1984 Olympics. Her sheer speed and the way she sprang from the ground, twisted and spiraled with toes perfectly pointed, looked like Wonder Woman and Evel Knievel combined. She won the all-around gold medal in women's gymnastics and inspired a generation of girls. Right after her impressive performance in Los Angeles, Mary Lou began her relationship with the Special Olympics. She has been a champion of the athletes ever since and this year she's teamed up with Procter & Gamble to support the competitors and their families, who sacrifice so much to give their kids opportunities. The World Summer Games take place in Athens on June 25th. We spoke with Mary Lou about the important connection between sports and self-confidence and how everyone can make a difference for Special Olympians by visiting P&G's Thank You, Mom Facebook page.





Just to be sure I remembered it right, I watched Mary Lou's routine's from the 1984 Olympics, this time with my five-year-old daughters. Their first comment was that they loved the graphic print of her, red, white, and blue long-sleeved leotard. Then they wanted to know where the wires were that let her fly like that.



It was magical. Look it up if you don't remember. You won't be disappointed. Her marks stand on their own, but her medals were made all the more dramatic because Americans didn't usually dominate the sport. Mary Lou was the first American to take the all-around title. She also happened to win a total of five medals in Los Angeles, the most won by any athlete at the Olympics that year.



Today, Mary Lou is a mother of four beautiful daughters, a motivational speaker, and a TV commentator. The Olympics remain a big part of her life and not just because her five medals are on display in her living room. After she catapulted to fame in '84, offers poured in to lend her name to different organizations. The Special Olympics was the first one she committed to. For 27 years, she says, it's been the Special Olympians inspiring her, not the other way around.



As Mary Lou well knows, competing in and even traveling to the Olympics isn't easy. Here's how you can help: Visit P&G's Thank You, Mom Facebook page and "like" share or leave a comment. For each one, P&G will donate $1 to support Special Olympics Team USA's journey to Athens, up to $250,000. While you're there, check out Mary Lou's video tribute to her own family, "What I see."




Do you have a favorite moment from the 1984 Olympic Games? Post on our Facebook wall and let us know. To jog your memory, here's a gallery of Mary Lou's spectacular moments. Enjoy!

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