This week, GlossyNews.com sat down with former gymnast and Olympic gold medalist, Mary Lou Retton to get her thoughts on a variety of issues ahead of the Olympics in London. Here’s how it all went down.
GLOSSYNEWS.COM: Welcome, Mary Lou. The image of you smiling with immense joy at the 1984 Olympics is indelibly etched in American Olympic folklore. Take us back to that day when you famously took the gold medal in the All-Around Gymnastics final. What was going through your mind?
RIGHT: Image courtesy of The Indy Tribune. (click to enlarge)
MARY LOU RETTON: I was trying to tune everything out, to focus on my upcoming vault. But I had the worst wedgie ever. Have you ever worn a leotard? It’s pretty hard to keep it out of your ass, especially when you’re flipping around and twisting and leaping through the air and whatnot. So there I was, 16 years old, with all those cameras on me. The whole world was watching to see if I would make history as the first American woman to take gold in the All-Arounds, and all I could think was, “How can I discretely pick my wedgie?”
GLOSSYNEWS.COM: But… but you seemed so happy at the time?
MARY LOU RETTON: Well, I added an extra twist to that first vault, and the wedgie worked its way out. I was very relieved.
GLOSSYNEWS.COM: So having overcome the wedgie and having landed not one, but two perfect vaults, you became the first American to win the Olympic title in the All-Around event. Where in the Retton household does the gold medal reside to this day? Katrina, in Fort Wayne posed that question on our Twitter page.
MARY LOU RETTON: I keep my medals in my underwear drawer. A lot of people are surprised to hear that, but really, ask any woman, we hide all our important stuff in our underwear drawer.
GLOSSYNEWS.COM: Perhaps I’d better change the subject. A lot has been made in recent years about the role of performance-enhancing drugs in the world of sport, particularly in Olympic sports. Have the IOC’s drug tests worked to eliminate illegal drug use, or do you think more can be done at the grassroots level?
MARY LOU RETTON: Every athlete should know how to pass a drug test. If you haven’t figured out how to get around those tests, then you don’t deserve to be competing at the Olympic level. That said, you don’t hear of too many gymnasts testing positive for illegal substances. We’re tiny, but we can crush your skull with our thighs, so no one at the IOC really wants to mess with us.
GLOSSYNEWS.COM: Now, at the height of your fame, you were voted Sports Illustrated’s Sportswoman of the Year and became the first official spokeswoman for Wheaties. A lot of young people getting their big break in televised sports have a lot of weight on their shoulders. What advice would you give to any up-and-coming athlete about handling the pressure?
MARY LOU RETTON: These kids know nothing about pressure. Try going on television in those leotards before Brazilians came into fashion, okay? That is pressure. These gymnasts have no idea how easy they have it.
GLOSSYNEWS.COM: And what about these days? Even though it is almost 28 years since your historic success in Los Angeles, you still remain a household name within the world of gymnastics. As a frequent commentator on indoor gymnastics, do you see a little bit of yourself in the gymnasts of today?
MARY LOU RETTON: No.
GLOSSYNEWS.COM: Mary Lou, thank you.
Article was co-written by Laurence Brown.