They come into our lives every four years, darling pixies in red, white and blue, with glamour and grit to match. They are talented and tested beyond their years, and we remember their smiles and their names as if they're still on our TV screens – Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin, Carly Patterson, Shannon Miller, Dominique Dawes, Kerri Strug.
It's hard to imagine an Olympic summer without a beloved American female gymnast. But there was a time when such a thing didn't exist – a time before the Wheaties boxes and the late-night talk circuits. There was a time when American women didn't have a shot at gymnastics gold.
There was a moment when all that changed forever, and that moment – when Mary Lou Retton stood at the beginning of a long runway to a waiting vault – was highly precarious.
She almost didn't make it to the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles. Retton had a knee operation only a few weeks before, and arthroscopic surgery wasn't as routine as it is now. "She was terrified Read More »from Mary Lou Retton became America's darling and changed women's sports forever