Former Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton could not contain her tears or her excitement when her daughter, Louisiana State University gymnast McKenna Kelley, scored a near-perfect 9.95 at the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships on Saturday.
Today reported that the proud mom flashed “perfect 10” fingers and blew kisses to Kelley when she completed her routine, which helped the LSU gymnastics team finish second place. Images shared on Twitter from the event showed a tearful Retton looking on as her daughter performed.
The score is especially significant because Kelley tore her Achilles tendon in November 2017 and spent most of the 2018 season watching from the sidelines. At the time, she shared on Twitter that the injury would not hold her back, and she intended to work her “tail off” to recover and become “the best person, student and athlete for this school.”
Kelley, a junior, began to pursue elite gymnastics when she was 17, Today reported. That happens to be the same age Retton was when she retired from the sport in 1985.
LSU coach D-D Breaux told The Times-Picayune that she commended Kelley, adding that the athlete had worked hard to come back from her injury and did an “amazing job” during the championships.
The tenacity must be hereditary because Retton, too, performed at the Olympics just five weeks after she had undergone knee surgery. She earned perfect 10s on the floor routine and walked away with not only a gold medal but two silver and two bronze medals.
Retton, 51, who was the first American woman to earn a gold medal in gymnastics back in 1984, shared in an Instagram post explaining how proud she was of Kelley earlier in the month when her daughter scored a perfect 10 on LSU’s Senior Night.
Today reported that Retton is a “constant presence” at Kelley’s competitions.
The proud mom reportedly told ESPN that she’d try to tone her enthusiasm down, but that sometimes she could not help herself from getting carried away.
Kelley doesn’t seem to be bothered by her mom’s enthusiasm.
“Her voice is so distinct, and I can always hear it in the crowd,” she said. “She’s a hollerer, for sure.”
Kelly told The Times-Picayune that she was not sure what she would do in the future. She is eligible to return to competing on the college’s gymnastics team in her senior year but said she didn’t know if that was something she wanted to do.