Gymnast Mary Lou Retton topic at Huntingdon Woman’s Club

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On another wet and cold day, the Huntingdon Woman’s Club met for their monthly meeting on February 2. Ten members arrived at the Old West Steak House conference room to a table of pink sequin sheen and teal blue accessories. The center piece for the table consisted of a beautiful flower arrangement of pick and red carnations with the addition of purple daisy and statice.

Mrs. Billy Cary served as hostess informing the members about the Iconic Woman Athlete, Mary Lou Retton. Mrs. Cary welcomed everyone and opened the meeting with a devotion on “How Deep is the Love of God” and led the group in prayer.  The ladies then enjoyed the country buffet.

 President, Mrs. Gus Radford presided over the business meeting. The roll was called and the minutes from January 19, were read and approved.      Mrs. A.G. Warren, chairman of the future program planning committee, gave a report on the future program outline for the 2022-2023 year.  Mrs. Radford then turned the meeting over to Mrs. Cary to continue the study of Iconic Women Athletes of the great gymnast, Mary Lou Retton.

Mary Lou Retton was born on January 24, 1968 in Fairmont, West Virginia. The family name was originally “Rotunda”. Her father, Ronnie, operated a coal-industry transportation equipment business. Retton was inspired by watching Nadia Comaneci outshine defending Olympic two-event winner Olga Korbut on television at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal when she was eight years of age. And then she took up gymnastics in her hometown of Fairmont. She was coached by Gary Rafaloski, but made the decision to move to Houston, Texas, to train under Romanians Bela and Marta Karolyi. Retton soon began to make a name for herself in the U.S. by winning the American Cup in 1983.

Retton was the first American woman to win an individual Olympic gold medal in gymnastics. At the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, she achieved perfect scores in her final two events to win a dramatic victory in the all-around exercises. For her performances, she was named Sports Illustrated Magazine’s “Sportswoman of the Year.” She also appeared on a Wheaties box, and became the cereal’s first official spokeswoman.

In 1985, Retton won the American Cup all-around competition for the third and final time. She retired in 1986. Retton married Texas quarterback and Houston real estate developer, Shannon Kelley. Together they have four daughters who also competed in gymnastics. The next meeting will be on February 16, with Mrs. Tommy Cole continuing the program with a report on the multi-sports athlete Charlotte “Lottie” Dod.

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