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Women of Wide World: Mary Lou Retton
ABC Sports Online


It was on Wide World of Sports that America's sweetheart first captured the heart of an entire nation -- in 1983 when 15-year-old Mary Lou Retton won gold at the American Cup Gymnastics in New York.

Mary Lou Retton
Mary Lou Retton in action on the balance beam during the 1984 Summer Olympics.
Trained under the watchful eye of Bela Karolyi, Retton became the most famous gymnast in the United States in 1984. Measuring at just 4-foot-3 inches and 94 pounds, the Fairmount, W.V., native became the first American woman ever to win the gold medal in the all-around in women's gymnastics at the Olympics in Los Angeles. As a member of the silver medalist team from the U.S., she also won an individual silver medal in the vault, as well as bronze medals in the uneven bars and floor exercise. Her five medals were the most won by any athlete at the 1984 Olympics.

Mary Lou's historic Olympic performances, along with her radiant smile and enthusiasm, brought her recognition as Sports Illustrated Magazine's "Sportswoman of the Year" in 1984. That same year, the Associated Press awarded her the title "Amateur Athlete of the Year". In 1993, almost a decade after her Los Angeles triumph, an Associated Press national survey named her the "Most Popular Athlete in America."

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