Hall of Fame
MARY LOU RETTON
CLASS OF 2020
Bela Karolyi kept it simple. He tapped 14-year-old Mary Lou Retton on the shoulder at an event in Nevada, introduced himself, and told her if she came to Houston to train with him, he would make her an Olympic champion.
At first, she laughed. A joke, right? Then, she accepted the legendary coach’s challenge.
Mary Lou Retton shows off the iconic cover of the Wheaties cereal box at the 2020 Houston Sports Awards.
Two years later, Retton vaulted her way into our hearts at the 1984 Olympic Games when she became the first American woman to win the All-Around gold medal. Nearly four decades later, she became the first woman inducted into the Houston Sports Hall of Fame.
Who can forget that Sports Illustrated cover of the 4-foot-9 superstar with her arms raised and the headline – Only You, Mary Lou – back in 1984? It remains one of the most iconic photos of the Los Angeles Games.
Mary Lou Retton unveils her plaque on the Walk of Fame with the help of Mayor Sylvester Turner.
And those chills you get watching the videos of her that night – the floor exercise and those two perfect vaults that came five weeks after undergoing knee surgery – remind you of how much she still means to the sport nearly four decades later.
The woman dubbed America’s sweetheart after she earned a perfect 10 on the vault to edge Romania’s Ecaterina Szabo for the gold in Los Angeles, Retton was the girl with the golden smile.
Mary Lou Retton on the day her selection into the Houston Sports Hall of Fame was announced.
Training under Bela and his wife Marta, Retton brought fire, passion, and power to the sport and transformed women’s gymnastics in Los Angeles. She became the first female athlete to grace the cover of a Wheaties box and was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1997.
The pint-sized Retton grew up in West Virginia, where she taught herself how to flip, tumble, and twist across the yard. She became a gymnast at 8 when she watched Romania’s Nadia Comaneci win gold at the 1976 Olympics. Then, at 14, she met Karolyi and moved to Houston to train. She never left.
Watch the introduction of Mary Lou Retton at the 2020 Houston Sports Awards.
Retton, who competed on Dancing with the Stars in 2018, is the mother of four girls – three of them gymnasts and a competitive cheerleader – and is currently a spokeswoman and, motivational speaker, and frequent television analyst.
Rudy Tomjanovich receives his Hall of Fame jacket at the 2020 Houston Sports Awards. Knot Standard has been the sole providor of the HSHOF jackets since the inception of the HOF.
Mary Lou Retton and Houston Astros 2nd Baseman Jose Altuve at the 2020 Houston Sports Awards.
Mary Lou Retton and her Hall of Fame painting at the 2020 Houston Sports Awards.
The Houston Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020 in their Hall of Fame jackets provided by Knot Standard.
Mary Lou Retton was inducted into the Houston Sports Hall of Fame by her three daughters at the 2020 Houston Sports Awards.