Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton breaks silence over health battle: ‘I am forever grateful to you all!’

Mary Lou Retton says she is ‘beyond blessed’ with the support she received while in hospital with pneumonia

Amelia Neath
Tuesday 31 October 2023 12:40 GMT
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Mary Lou Retton released from hospital following severe bout of pneumonia

Former Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton has broken her silence over her battle with a rare form of pneumonia.

Ms Retton, 55, was hospitalised earlier this month and was “fighting for her life” in the ICU while battling pneumonia.

Despite having a “scary setback” just days before she was released from the ICU, she finally made it home last week.

Now, she has given her own update for the first time on Instagram, saying she is “beyond blessed” with the kindness she has received.

“I am overwhelmed with all the love and support from the world as I fight,” she wrote. “I am forever grateful for you all.”

She continued: “I’m with family continuing to slowly recover and staying very positive as I know this recovery is a long and slow process.”

While Ms Retton carries on in her recovery from her serious illness, she said she hopes to, at a later stage, explain what she has been through.

“When the time is right, I will be sharing more information about my health issues and hope I can help others who may face the same battle as me,” she concluded.

Her daughters have been keeping fans up to date, sharing updates on both her progress and her setbacks on Instagram while the former star gymnast was in hospital in Texas.

The gold medallist was hospitalised earlier this month. She was unable to breathe on her own during her first weeks in hospital but, as time went on, her daughters shared that she was responding well to treatments.

McKenna Kelley, one of her daughters, set up a now-closed fundraising page, initially with the goal of raising $50,000 for her mother’s medical bills.

Ms Retton now continues to recover, but from the comfort of her home
Ms Retton now continues to recover, but from the comfort of her home (Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)

The gymnast did not have her own medical insurance, so her daughters relied on the support from their mother’s fans to help pay her bills.

The overwhelming support for the gymnast meant the GoFundMe ended up topping $459,000.

Ms Retton is best known for being the first American female gymnast to win the all-around Olympic gold medal in 1984 when she was only 16 years old.

As well as winning a gold medal, she won two bronze and two silver medals in other competitions within the games that year.

Her performance earned her the name “America’s Sweetheart” and made her one of the most popular gymnasts in America.

She was inducted into the United States Olympic and Paralympic Hall of Fame in 1985 and the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1997.

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