With a famous mom like Olympic gymnastics superstar Mary Lou Retton, there must be some pressure for her daughter, McKenna Kelley, to take up the mantle of gymnastics greatness. After all, Retton was the first American woman to ever win an Olympic all-around gold at the 1984 summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California. But Kelley seems to be handling these expectations without breaking a sweat, as evidenced by her recent performance in the NCAA championships.
On Saturday, April 20, LSU finished second at the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships. The last routine of the night was Kelley’s, for which she earned a 9.95, which is only .05 from a perfect 10 score. As Kelley took her final bow after her stellar performance, the crowd went wild.
You can see her performance in the video below, posted to Twitter by sports journalist Holly Rowe, who noted how lucky she felt watching the daughter of the gymnast she once idolized:
I idolized @marylouretton now watching her lovely daughter @mckennamckelley is such a cool experience. Gosh it brings it all back!!! Wonderful final performance for her career at @LSUgym pic.twitter.com/DR9R83G9P8
— Holly Rowe (@sportsiren) April 21, 2019
You may have spotted, in the crowd there, Kelley’s mom, cheering along with everyone else. Did having her mom there make Kelley nervous?
“Growing up, I never had that pressure,” Kelley told espnW as a freshman competitor. “And I feel like people have a hard time believing that. You see ‘Dance Moms’ and you see how crazy those moms are and you just assume that an Olympic champion would want her child to be like that. But my mom never, ever put pressure on us. Ever. If anything, when we were growing up she’d be like, ‘You should quit. You don’t want to get hurt or anything!'”
Still, Retton is supportive of her daughter’s aspirations, as you may have been able to tell by her beaming face in the video. The moment was also captured in photos and shared online, as seen in the tweet below from @JacquesDoucet:
A very touching moment late, as @LSUgym @mckennamckelley performs her final floor routine as a Tiger, with her legendary mother Mary Lou Retton in tears looking on. Kelley scored a stellar 9.95. pic.twitter.com/YrERX9CtZ3
— Jacques Doucet (@JacquesDoucet) April 21, 2019
“Her voice is so distinct, and I can always hear it in the crowd,” Kelley told ESPN in 2016. “She’s a hollerer, for sure.”
But who could blame her? The proud mom took to Instagram to commemorate her daughter’s triumphant performance.
She shared a photo of the LSU team holding a trophy with the caption, “Yep…”
She also shared a photo of herself in the stands, along with a big group of other LSU parents. “Our LSU parents den!!!!” she described, adding, “We are the loudest and most obnoxious parents [sic] section in the USA!! and I LOVE it!!”
Meanwhile, Kelley also later celebrated her second place spot on Instagram, sharing the below photo:
“Last night, I learned that winning isn’t everything; that I don’t need a 1st place win to know that I have already won,” she wrote in the caption, going on to thank the school, the team and her coaches and other supporters.
She also shared additional images of her performance on Twitter, writing, “Tiger Nation, thank you!”
And like her mom, she couldn’t help but share an image of her newly won awards. “Happy Monday!” she wrote in the caption alongside several happy face emojis.
Kelley also retweeted this video of her emotional reaction at the end of her performance. In the clip, she can be seen holding her hands to her heart and blowing a kiss to the audience:
— Alison Stevens (@AlisonMichele93) April 21, 2019
The LSU Gymnastics team also commemorated the special moment online, tweeting an image of Kelley during her routine. “It’s a 9.95 to end her illustrious career,” the caption read.
McKenna Kelley anchors the 2019 NCAA Gymnastics Championships! It's a 9.95 to end her illustrious career. pic.twitter.com/FayDig23lR
— LSU Gymnastics (@LSUgym) April 21, 2019
Kelley is a senior at LSU, which means this may have been her last performance with the team. She does have the option of returning as a fifth-year senior, however. But what she chooses remains to be seen.
Wherever she ends up next year, she’s sure to dazzle.