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Hall of Fame 


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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 along with Mayor Sylvester Turner unveil her plaque on the Walk of Fame.

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 to be inducted into the Houston Sports Hall of Fame.

Watch the "Red Carpet" interivew with Carl Lewis and Julia Morales Clark at the 2020 Houston Sports Awards.

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. 

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.


Mary Lou Retton visits with media along with her fellow Class of 2020 Houston Sports Hall of Famers, Rudy Tomjanovich (Left) and Carl Lewis (Right).

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. 

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.

Watch the introduction of Carl Lewis at the 2020 Houston Sports Awards.

The pint-sized Retton grew up in West Virginia, where she taught herself how to flip, tumble, and twist across the yard. At 8, she decided to become a gymnast 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.

Retton, who competed in 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, motivational speaker, and frequent television analyst. 


Mary Lou Retton stops on the Red Carpet at the 2020 Houston Sports Awards to talk to Houston Texans Senior Content Manager Drew Daugherty.


Mary Lou gives her acceptance speech for the Houston Sports Hall of Fame at the 2020 Hosuton Sports Awards.

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HCHSA CEO Janis Burke and Mary Lout Retton on the day Retton was suprised with the annoucemnet of her selection into the Houston Sports Hall of Fame.


Mary Lou visits with Space CIty Home Network and HSA Red Carpet Host Julia Morales at the 2020 Houston Sports Awards.

HCHSA CEO, Janis Burke (Left) and Mayor Sylvester Turner post with Mary Lou a tthe unveiling of her plaque on the Houston Sports HOF Walk of Fame.

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