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McKayla Maroney’s Crazy Year
By Sally Haase
October 22, 2013

              Those outside of the gymnastics world likely know her as the “not impressed” girl.
Those who follow gymnastics know her as the best vaulter in the world.  McKayla Maroney
has had an interesting year since returning home from the 2012 London Olympic Games.  
Her near perfect vault in the team competition later became overshadowed by her own
anger when she sat down on the landing of her second vault in the individual vault
competition.  Instead of being angry with the “not impressed” mocking she received online,
Maroney owned it and had fun with it; showing her favorite “not impressed” memes on her
social media pages and making the face with President Barak Obama.  The months after
London were a whirlwind for many gold medalists, especially for Maroney who along with her
teammates went on a nation wide gymnastics tour.

              In the first week of the tour Maroney suffered a leg injury on her dismount from the
uneven bars.  The awkward landing caused a break in the leg that needed surgery, Maroney
was out of the tour for weeks.  With the time off, Maroney decided to multitask on her lower
body injuries by having an operation on her injured toe that limited her to the vault in the
London games.

              Of course being an Olympic gold medalist has it perks and Maroney enjoyed a few
in the months after London by attending award shows, judging the Miss America Pageant
and dabbling in acting on the CW’s TV show “Hart of Dixie”.  Her third and final appearance
on the show displayed Maroney’s comedic chops with a rapid fire rant at one of the show’s
recurring characters.  For some athletes the lure of the fame and fortune that comes
immediately after winning a gold medal is too much and they retire from their respective
sports and cash in on the endorsement deals.  Maroney could have easily been one of those
athletes; she had a gold medal, she had the fame and name recognition to strike while the
iron was hot, but she decided to go back to the gym.

              The 2013 World Gymnastics Championship were less than a year away when
Maroney went back to serious training.  To prepare for Worlds she moved her focus to all
four apparatuses in order to contend for the all-around title.  Vault and floor are Maroney’s
specialties, and if you have ever seen her floor routine; you know she does not need a vault
to fly.  Her balance beam and uneven bars routines were not ready for the US competition,
but Maroney won both floor and vault and made the national team.  Maroney was named to
the Worlds team and competed in the all-around, vault and floor.

              Because of the two gymnasts per country rule Maroney was the odd woman out in
the all-around, although her score was high enough to qualify.  Maroney tied with teammate
Kyla Ross on floor and with Ross having the higher execution score, won the spot.  Maroney
also had a tenth of a point penalty on her routine.  The penalty was because her music ended
one second beyond the 90 second time limit, how that was not caught before Worlds I do not
know, but tenths are huge in gymnastics and it bumped Maroney from the floor finals.  
Maroney ended up with one event at Worlds but it’s her event- the vault.  Even with a tenth
deduction penalty for landing outside of the designated lines on the mat Maroney became
repeat champion on vault; making her the first US woman to successfully defend her vault
world title.

              The next Olympics cycle is three years away and it is extremely hard for US women
gymnasts to make another Olympic team.  You see other teams around the world who have
women who are on their second or third Olympic gymnastics team and the United States has
a whole new team every four years.  The reasons are many I’m sure, it could be the allure of
fame and fortune, to the opportunities of higher education and a different career path, too
much stress on the body, or there are other gymnasts who are just better; US gymnasts face
an uphill battle to make another Olympic team.  Maroney looks like she could be the one to
buck the trend right now, she is in excellent shape, has grown and matured and will be 20
years old by 2016, still young enough to be in elite form.  Most of all she is determined and
serious about her 2016 run, Maroney has stated in interviews that 2016 is the only thing on
her mind, even going as far as saying that 2016 is her phone password; a daily reminder of
her ultimate goal.
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