McKenna Kelley had a special someone cheering her on at her gymnastics competition Saturday: mom Mary Lou Retton

By Dave Quinn
April 23, 2019 10:00 AM
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Like mother, like daughter!

Louisiana State University gymnast McKenna Kelley earned a near-perfect 10 for her floor routine on Saturday at the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships, while her mother — Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton — cheered her on from the stands of the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena.

The 22-year-old senior led her team to an overall second-place victory with her score of 9.95, The Times-Picayune reported, which came in the competition’s final floor routine. That’s the third runner-up placement LSU has earned since Kelley joined the team.

Retton, 51, looked proud as could be of her daughter as she watched her perform in video captured from the Texas event. She joined the crowd in repeatedly chanting “10” while flashing both hands toward the sky, and later covered her mouth as she teared up at her daughter’s success.

It was an especially astonishing return to the top for Kelley, who spent her junior year on the sidelines with a torn Achilles tendon.

“I really commend her,” LSU coach D-D Breaux told The Times-Picayune of Kelley. “She’s worked really hard to come back from a serious injury, did two events and was ready to do beam tonight. She has done an amazing job.”

Kelley only began pursuing elite gymnastics five years ago at the age of 17, Today reported. That’s the same age Retton was when she retired from the sport in 1985 — a year after she became the first American woman to win the individual all-around gold medal in gymnastics at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

McKenna Kelley at the NCAA Women’s National Collegiate Gymnastics Championship
| Credit: Kyle Okita/CSM/Shutterstock
Mary Lou Retton at the 1984 Olympics
| Credit: Lionel Cironneau/AP/REX/Shutterstock

She still has another year left in it, if she wants it. Having missed the entirety of her junior season due to injury, Kelley is eligible to remain on the LSU team for one more season.

Asked if she’ll return, Kelley told The Times-Picayune, “I’m really not sure.”

“There’s light peeking through the door,” Kelley said. “I don’t know. I really don’t know. I’m thinking about how tonight went. I’m thinking about the group of girls I love. I’m thinking about my senior class. I’m thinking about my body. I’m also thinking about what I could do out of this sport and what this sport has given me.”

Meanwhile, in addition to McKenna, Retton has three other daughters with ex-Shannon Kelley: Shayla Rae, 24, Skyla Brae, 19, and Emma Jean, 16.