Larry Martino

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It was on August 3, 1984 that Mary Lou Retton became the first American woman to win win the women’s gymnastics all-around gold medal at the Summer Olympics.



Retton was just 16 years-old at the time. She was in her sophomore year at Fairmont High School in Fairmont, West Virginia. According to Wikipedia, she was inspired to become a gymnast when she was eight years-old by watching female gymnast Nadia Comameci of Romania defeat the Soviet Union’s Olga Korbut at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.

Since her Olympic gold medal victory at the Los Angeles Summer Games in 1984, she has received many honors. There is a street and a park in her home town of Fairmont, West Virginia which bear her name. She was elected to the National Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame in 1992. She was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1997.

It was Retton’s gold medal-winning performance and her subsequent national popularity which has surely inspired some of the other fantastic American female gymnasts who have followed in her footsteps to claim gold medals at the Summer Olympic Games in the following years. Familiar American female gymnasts such as Kerri Strug, Shannon Miller, Amy Chow, Dominique Dawes, Nastia Liukin, Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles, Shawn Johnson, Aly Raisman, Carly Patterson, Juliana McNamara have all won gymnastic gold for our nation since 1984. Most recently, U.S.A.’s Sunisa Lee won the women’s all-around gold medal in gymnastics at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan.

That’s an impressive line-up of gold medal winners for a country that did not win many medals in that sport until Mary Lou Retton and her 1984 women’s teammates burst on to the scene 38 years ago. Thanks for the memories, Mary Lou!


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Larry Martino is the long-time Afternoon Drive personality on 96.3 KKLZ. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of Larry Martino and not necessarily those of Beasley Media Group, LLC.


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