Go for the gold! Season 27 of Dancing With The Stars is going is going to be absolutely lit thanks to a stellar cast, and one history-making Olympian. Mary Lou Retton, 50, is joining, R&B singer, Tinashe, 25, Harry Potter actress Evanna Lynch, 27, Dukes of Hazzard actor John Schnieder, 58, and Zombies star Milo Manheim, 17 as they compete for the Mirrorball trophy. Mary Lou is partnered with Sasha Farber, 34, who is no stranger to dancing with Olympic gymnasts–he was paired with Simon Biles in Season 24. Get to know more about this fierce competitor who is guaranteed to give the other contestants a serious run for their money!
1. She made Olympic history. Mary Lou Retton won a gold medal in the individual all-around competition, as well as two silver medals and two bronze medals, in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. It was the first time the Summer Olympics were held in the United States in 52 years, and Mary Lou was the first ever American woman to win the all-around gold medal and was the only one to do so for twenty years–until Carly Patterson in 2004’s Olympic games in Athens. After her record breaking Olympic performance, she became known as one of the most popular athletes in America. She retired in 1986.
2. She’s a sweetheart and a spitfire! Mary Lou is known for her exuberant personality and heart-warming smile and is a fireball wrapped in a 4’9″ frame! She became Wheaties’ first official spokeswoman and Sports Illustrated named her “Sportswoman of the Year,” in 1984. Fans everywhere fell in love with Mary Lou’s pep, and it’s not hard to see why. “I would sleep in my leotard on Friday nights because I was so excited about gymnastics on Saturday mornings,” she said in a past interview.
3. She is a devout Catholic. Mary Lou credits her intense faith for helping her in her career. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without my relationship with God,” she said in a past interview. “My relationship with Jesus Christ is so much stronger now, but then, I mean, I knew He gave me talent and I knew that He brought Bela Karolyi into my life to bring that talent out. I give Him all the glory.”
4. She has four kids. Mary Lou is a mom to four girls Shayla Rae Kelley, 23, McKenna Lane Kelley, 21, Skyla Brae Kelley, 18, and Emma Jean Kelley, 16, all of whom are athletes. Daughter, McKenna is following in her mom’s footsteps and pursuing gymnastics. While stress fractures in her legs prevented her from competing nationally, she ended up competing on the college level at LSU, where she attends.
5. She’s ready to bring home the Mirrorball trophy! Mary Lou is no stranger to competition and still stays incredibly fit–she is currently a motivational speaker and corporate spokesperson who travels the world as a “Fitness Ambassador.” DWTS partner, Sasha Farber, is understandably thrilled to be paired with her. “Yessssss I can finally say it!!! I’m so excited to be partnered with the one and only @marylouretton she is an absolute legend and is working so hard I can’t wait for you all to see her dance !!! @dancingabc,” he captioned a Sept. 12, post. Good luck, guys!