STEUBENVILLE - Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton will be the keynote speaker at the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner meeting on Sept. 24.
Retton, the first American woman ever to win gold in gymnastics, replaces the late Marvin Hamlisch, the Oscar, Emmy and Tony award-winning composer who died unexpectedly Aug. 6 in Los Angeles.
"Our chamber is so honored to have Ms. Retton share her story, experiences and philosophy through a presentation entitled, 'The Competitive Edge," Chamber President Sue Hershey said.
"I'm absolutely ecstatic, and she's delighted as well. She's a hometown girl, being born and raised in Fairmont (W.Va.) and, until recently, she'd been living in the Pittsburgh area. We're very excited to have Mary Lou here, especially on the heels of the Olympics and seeing how well our women did. It's a great tie-in, a great follow-up to the Olympics, and a great addition to our annual dinner."
Retton won the all-around gold medal in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. She's also the only woman to win three American Cups (1983-85), the only American to win Japan's prestigious Chunichi Cup (1983), two U.S. Gymnastics Federation American Classics titles (1983-84) and the all-around title at both the 1984 National Championships and Olympic trials. She retired from competitive gymnastics in 1986, and now is in demand as a motivational speaker and corporate spokesperson. She also travels the world as a "fitness ambassador" promoting the benefits of proper nutrition and regular exercise.
Retton serves as national chairperson and sits on the Board of Governors of the Children's Miracle Network. She was a commentator for NBC's coverage of the 1988 Olympic Games and wrote a daily column for USA Today at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. At the 1996 Olympics, she served as on-air reporter for Gannett Broadcasting's NBC affiliates, the largest NBC affiliate group in the country. She also co-hosted the weekly television series, "Road to Olympic Gold."
A budding actress, she's appeared in the motion pictures "Scrooged" and "Naked Gun 33 1/3" and has appeared on numerous television shows including "Guiding Light," "Knots Landing" and "Dream On" and guest-starred on one of the highest-rated episodes of the series "Baywatch." She also authored Mary Lou Retton's Gateways to Happiness: 7 Ways to a More Peaceful, More Accomplished, More Satisfying Life (April 2000).
Countless awards and honors have been bestowed on Retton, including 1984 Sports Illustrated Sportswoman of the Year; 1984 Associated Press Amateur Athlete of the Year; the first gymnast and youngest inducted into the USOC Olympic Hall of Fame; the first woman to appear on a Wheaties box; and one of America's Top Ten "Most Admired" public figures.
The dinner is set for 6 p.m. at St. Florian Hall. For details about the dinner or ticket information, call the chamber offices at (740) 282-6226.