Mary Lou Retton suffers ‘scary setback’ and remains in ICU, her daughter says

Mary Lou Retton, former Olympic gold medallist, looks on during the 2009 Tyson American Cup at the Sears Centre on February 21, 2009 in Hoffman Estates, Ill. Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

Mary Lou Retton, the former Olympic gymnast, has suffered a “scary setback” in her fight against a rare form of pneumonia this week, her daughter told fans Wednesday night.

In a post to Instagram, Shayla Kelley Schrepfer said her mom remains in intensive care and is “really exhausted.”

“At the beginning of this week, we were going on the up and up. We were so excited, seeing so much progress, and then yesterday we had a pretty scary setback,” Schrepfer said. “She is still in ICU, and we’re just working through some things as far as her setback goes.”

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Last week, Schrepfer first shared the news that Retton, 55, is in hospital “fighting for her life.”

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She said at the time that the Olympic gold medallist had “not (been) able to breathe on her own” for the last week and asked that people pray for her mom, and, if possible, make a donation to help pay for hospital bills. Schrepfer says Retton does not have health insurance.

Another post, shared Saturday, announced that her mom was getting “stronger.”

“We’re thrilled to share some uplifting updates! Mom’s progress is truly remarkable! Prayers have been felt and have been answered,” she wrote.

Since the news of Retton’s hospitalization became public, an online fundraiser established to help relieve the family’s financial burden has raised more than US$450,000.

Retton was 16 years old when she won five medals for gymnastics at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, including a gold medal in the all-around competition. She was the first American, man or woman, to win an Olympic all-around gold medal in the sport.

FILE – Gymnast Mary Lou Retton of the United States competes in the balance beam competition in gymnastics during the Games of the XXIII Olympiad in the 1984 Summer Olympics circa 1984 at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. Focus on Sport / Getty Images

Retton also famously scored perfect 10s for her vault and floor routines. She was subsequently launched to fame and became a much-admired athlete around the world.

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She was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1997. She became the first woman to ever be honoured in the Houston Sports Hall of Fame in 2020. She was also the first woman to ever be featured on a Wheaties box.

Schrepfer, like her mother, was also a gymnast. She competed for Louisiana State University.

— With files from Global News’ Sarah Do Couto

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