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Women's History
Mary Lou Retton

Mary Lou Retton
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 10
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.59

     challenging words:    sportswoman, accuracy, brilliant, enthusiasm, parallel, survey, individual, gymnastics, final, tension, sweetheart, develop, power, bronze, audience, vault
     content words:    Ekaterina Szabo, Mary Lou Retton, Lou Retton, West Virginia, Bela Karolyi, Summer Olympics, Los Angeles, Mary Lou, Sports Illustrated, Associated Press

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Mary Lou Retton
By Kathleen Redman

1     The tension was high. The other competitors and the Olympic audience were quiet as the tiny gymnast prepared for her final vault. Everyone knew that the 16-year-old was coming off of a serious knee injury and was trailing the favored Ekaterina Szabo by .05 points. Only a perfect 10 on the vault would give Mary Lou Retton the gold medal. Her years of training and dreaming came down to this one final routine. Retton began her trip down the runway and nailed her vault, earning a perfect 10 and becoming the first American woman to win an individual medal in Olympic gymnastics.

Mary Lou Retton was born on January 24, 1968, in Fairmont, West Virginia. She began studying dance and acrobatics at the age of four and started gymnastics training at five. When she was 15 she moved to Houston, Texas, to study with Bela Karolyi. Karolyi helped her develop a style that focused on her speed, accuracy, and power. She was chosen for the American gymnastics team in the 1984 Summer Olympics.

Six weeks before the Olympics began in Los Angeles she had to have surgery on one of her knees. The doctors told her she would not be able to compete in the Olympics. Mary Lou would not allow her dream to die and told the doctors, "I've made it this far. No one's going to keep me from trying." She .....
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