Mary Lou Retton Makes History: Celebrating 40 Years Paris 2024

mary lou retton leotards

America's gymnastics sweetheart, Mary Lou Retton, has partnered with Foxy's to create her very first leotard collection! Most of gymnastics popularity is founded from the icons like Mary Lou Retton, and her idol Nadia Comaneci. They paved the ways and are the reason so many gymnasts and coaches have committed their lives to the sport.  Mary Lou's strength and determination are still so strong today. Her Olympian mentality has carried her through so many tough times. Including one now. I wrote this post a few days ago and since then we just found out that she has been in the ICU for the past week with a rare case of pneumonia. She is not able to breathe on her own and we are asking for major prayers. Please start praying and spread the word.

I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Mary Lou and her daughter, Emma Kelley, a couple months ago in Arkansas at our first photoshoot. Mary Lou has been one of my biggest role models ever since watching her win the gold in Los Angeles in 1984. Everyone wanted to be her. We could not be her but we could all try to be like her. There is and only ever will be one Mary Lou Retton. She is a sweet, kind, 4' 9", real as it gets, Southern girl. I was surprised how down to Earth she really is. I felt like I was hanging out with a sister, or a friend that I had known forever. 

If I had known I was going to be driving her around in my Prius that day I would've vacuumed it and tried to spruce it up a bit, but she was very humble and told me that her car was full of dog hair so don't even worry. She was so low-maintenance and chill, so much so that she placed her gold medal in my hand and one point and said, "here, please hold this while I shoot this photo." I couldn't believe it! It was so much fun spending the day with her and talking about our loves and hardships from the sport. She helped to bring a spark back into my life for gymnastics again. 

The day together was full of surprises and challenges. We almost missed the delivery of the leotards for the shoot, but Mary Lou and Emma were able to track down the USPS man behind a Slim Chicken just the nick-of-time. They seriously saved the day. We made it to the Greek Theater at the University of Arkansas to finish our photoshoot with only 20 minutes to spare. I will never forget walking up the steps together of the Greek Theater after we finished the shoot and saying to her, "I can't believe we pulled all of this off". Her response to me... "we are Elite gymnasts which means we will always be able to pull anything off!" 

The Games in Paris next year will be Mary Lou's 40th year Anniversary of winning the gold. She is a true classic American gymnast that will forever go down in history. She is gymnastics. Read more below some of the questions I got to ask Mary Lou on our day together...

1. How did you start gymnastics? After watching Nadia in the 1976 Olympics I was hooked!

2. Did you ever do any other sports growing up? Yes, I ran track and I was a cheerleader.

3. Where did you grow up? I grew up in a small coal mining town called Fairmont, West Virginia.

4. What were you like as a child? I was the youngest of 5 kids in a very athletic family, and I was a pest!

5. Do you have siblings? Were any of them gymnasts? My sister was a gymnast as well.

mary lou retton and emma jean kelley collection
6. Were all of your daughter’s gymnasts and did you ever coach them? At one point all 4 of my daughters were gymnasts but my third daughter ended up in competitive cheer. 

7. What were the first few years like for you after retiring from gymnastics? Very busy... I was at the height of my fame and was literally traveling around the world. 

8. What is your favorite gymnastics memory? Bela holding me up and said "You are Olympic Champion!"

9. What was Bela Karolyi like? Bela was extremely tough in the gym but outside the gym was so fun, a great story teller, and tended to joke around a lot with me. 

10. Where is your favorite place you’ve traveled? Greece and Italy.

mary lou retton 1984 olympic champion
11. How has gymnastics affected you physically and mentally? Gymnastics has made me mentally strong to handle life's challenges but physically I'm pretty beat up with lots of hardware in my little body. I've had over 35 orthopedic surgeries, 4 hip replacements, 1 back... 2 neck.. the rest goes to 8+ shoulders.. both sides! Our generation had pretty unforgiving equipment and NO soft landings. 

12. What was Dancing with the Stars like? DWTS was an amazing experience but extremely taxing... 5-6 hour rehearsals that were very technical, but I'm so glad I did it. I learned a lot about myself.

13. What is a day in the life of Mary Lou Retton like? If I'm working I'm on a plane, on my way to a hotel... speaking and appearances, and then on the first plane back home. If I'm not working I'm a homebody because I'm otherwise traveling so much.

14. What are some of your interests and hobbies? I love to cook, dance, read, and I love my Golden Retriever, Honey!

15. What’s one piece of advice would you give to gymnasts? 
You HAVE to love it and it should remain fun! Be passionate.

16. How did if feel to be the first female on the Wheaties box and how has the affected your life? That was a thrill of a lifetime... I love being FIRST!

mary lou retton wheaties boxmary lou retton leotard wheaties box
17. What was the biggest highlight of being in the Olympics? 
Wearing USA flag! Opening ceremony was a highlight. 

18. Do you have any involvement with gymnastics today? I'm not involved much anymore but Emma is a senior at Arkansas so it will be our family's last year. 

19. What is still on your bucket list? To see the Northern Lights, travel to all continents. I'm missing Antarctic and Australia.

mary lou retton and emma jean kelley leaotards

Don’t miss out on owning a piece of gymnastics history! 🎉🤸‍♀️

MLR + EJK Leotard Collection: Inspired by the iconic leotards worn herself the leotards in this collection are a tribute to her historic achievements and timeless style, and her daughter Emma Jean's faithful lifestyle. Whether you’re a gymnast, dancer, or simply love making a statement, these leotards are a must-have in your wardrobe. 💫

👯‍♀️ Get ready to steal the show at your next performance, competition, or even during your daily training sessions. The Mary Lou Retton and Emma Jean Kelley Collection combines comfort, durability, and eye-catching designs for a winning combination. 🥇💃 Channel your inner champion, elevate your athletic fashion game, and let the world see your dedication and passion. 🌍🥇


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