'Dancing With the Stars' Competitor Mary Lou Retton Opens up About Moving on From 27-Year Marriage

Mary Lou Retton surprised viewers during Dancing With The Stars last week when she announced that her 27-year marriage to Shannon Kelley was over. The former gymnast has opened up about the divorce and moving on from the marriage.

"I’m on a really good path, and I’m happy with my life," Retton, 50, told PEOPLE this weekend. “I’m really excited for what this new chapter is going to bring instead of being that scared person that I was a couple of months ago. I really have done a full turnaround.”

The Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast still held back some personal details about the divorce, explaining that there was not "one defining moment" that led to the split. "It was that we grew apart," she told the magazine.

Retton said she felt lonely during the divorce process, but her four daughters with Kelley — Shayla, 23; McKenna, 21; Skyla, 18; and Emma, 16 — helped pull her though.

"My daughters were amazing. There’s that fine line between a daughter and a friend, so there’s a lot that I couldn’t share with them," she told PEOPLE. "They were angry in the beginning, and any child should be with their family being torn apart — but we’ve vowed that we would do holidays together and we’re going to try to make it as seamless and as painless as possible.”

Retton said her daughters were not surprised by the split, since she and Kelly were "arguing towards the end a lot, but I think they were shocked that it actually happened."

Retton has tried to keep her private life out of the public eye, but she felt it was important to discuss her divorce on DWTS to explain the "struggles and challenges" she mentioned throughout her time on the show.

“I just felt this is my chance to really be clear and to be transparent to people," she explained. "That was a big part of my struggle the last few years — do I do it? You know, all the things that come with a divorce of that magnitude with such a large family. I just wanted to be authentic. I wanted to tell people why."

Retton and her pro dance partner Sasha Farber were eliminated at the end of last week's Halloween episode, despite earning a 24/30 for their dance to Elle King's "Shame." Although Retton was happy to sign up for DWTS as a distraction from the split, she is now spending time at home recovering from her dance injuries.


Dancing With The Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. This week, the last eight duos dance to country music songs.

Photo credit: ABC/Eric McCandless