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Mary Lou Retton back home ‘in recovery mode,’ taking ‘baby steps’

FILE - Former Olympian Mary Lou Retton is back home recovering after she was hospitalized in the ICU earlier this month with a rare form of pneumonia, her daughter said. Steve Ross/Hulton Archive/Getty Images & Getty Images/Bob Riha, Jr.

Legendary American gymnast Mary Lou Retton, 55, is on the mend and back at home after being hospitalized with a “rare form” of pneumonia earlier this month.

The update came from Retton’s daughter, McKenna Kelley, who posted on Instagram, writing: “Mom is HOME & in recovery mode.”

“We still have a long road of recovery ahead of us, but baby steps,” she added.

Retton’s health has been up and down since she was first hospitalized in intensive care with pneumonia.

Her daughter initially said that Retton was “fighting for her life” after not being able to breathe on her own. A few days later, Kelley reported her mom was making “remarkable” progress and her reliance on medical equipment to breathe was diminishing.

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But days after that, Retton faced a “scary setback,” according to another one of her daughters, Shayla Kelley Schrepfer.

“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.”

Thankfully, Retton’s rollercoaster battle with pneumonia has moved in a positive direction with her release from hospital.

Retton’s family is thanking the doctors and nurses and “loving community of support” that helped with the former Olympian’s recovery.

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“We are overwhelmed with the love and support from everyone. Grateful doesn’t scrape the surface of the posture of our hearts,” Retton’s daughter Kelley wrote.

Kelley started a fundraiser to help cover Retton’s medical expenses, noting her mother doesn’t have health insurance. As of Tuesday morning, the campaign has raised more than US$450,000, far surpassing the US$50,000 goal.

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.

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.

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.

— With files from Global News’ Sarah Do Couto

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