In a sit down interview with Gymcastic, Olympic and World Champion, McKayla Maroney was at her most candid ever, addressing questions the gymnastics community has had for quite some time. The 20 year old vaulting superstar stressed that she wasn’t retiring, stating that she wanted to move on to new things but will remain an active member of the gymnastics community.


McKayla Maroney at 2013 P&G Championships

We were first introduced to McKayla Maroney in 2009, when, clad in all green everything along with Kyla Ross and the Gym-Max army she showed her prowess for the vault, performing an Amanar, a vault that would become her trademark. It immediately set her apart from the other girls, whilst falling on Day 1 at Visa Championships, McKayla still managed to place 3rd on Vault due to the enormous difficulty of the vault and her amazing form on the event. Whilst placing 3rd on Vault, due to a few falls and not having a lot of difficulty on her other 3 events, McKayla placed 27th AA at the 2009 Visa Championships. However, after changing gyms to AOGC in 2010, McKayla made incredible strides and truly showed what an extraordinary and mentally tough athlete and person she is when she improved her standing at the Visa Championships from 27th in 2009 to 3rd in 2010 and of course placing 1st on Vault.


McKayla Maroney leaping towards London in 2010

This insane mental toughness carried right through her career. Following her 3rd place finish at 2010 Visa Championships, McKayla went on to compete at the Pan American Championships in Guadalajara, Mexico, placing first on both Vault and Floor.


Winning the gold medal on Floor at the 2010 Pan American Championships

Following this, McKayla made the seamless transition to the Senior ranks, improving even further and placing 1st AA at the 2011 City of Jesolo Trophy in Jesolo, Italy, 2nd AA at the 2011 Visa Championships and capping off an incredible first year in the senior ranks with a World Championships berth, going on to win a gold medal in the team competition and becoming World Champion on Vault.


Becoming World Champion in 2011

Ever the perfectionist, it made me laugh when, on the podium McKayla directed Aly on how to wear her medal, McKayla always exuded such confidence and was and is the perfect role model for grit, determination and believing in yourself and the power of you dreams.


Winning the team gold medal in Tokyo

This grit and determination would serve her well as she entered 2012 which saw her compete at the Jesolo Trophy in March and place first on Vault, the Secret US Classic in June and placed first on Vault but following a horrific fall in the training before Day 2 at the Visa Championships suffered a concussion and nasal fracture. Amazingly, due to her incredible mental fortitude, grit and determination, just 3 weeks later McKayla competed at the 2012 Olympic Team Trials and despite making some mistakes due to her lack of ability to train in the lead up to the Trials, McKayla placed 1st On Vault, 5th on Floor and 7th AA, proving to everyone that she was a fighter and ultimately being named to the 2012 US Olympic team along with childhood friend, Kyla Ross.


Jumping for joy at the 2012 Olympics

Once again, at the Olympic Games, McKaylas grit and determination served her her well, when on the first day of training, after a beam dismount, McKayla, already working on injured legs and feet, broke her toe. With her future uncertain, and replacement athletes in London, ready and waiting to step in and earn Olympic glory, McKayla soldiered on, performing her Amanar in team, finals, sticking her landing and entering into the history books. McKayla, although faultering in Vault finals and falling on her second Vault and not receiving the gold medal that she was most certainly a shoe in for, came home from London with a gold and silver medal and new found fame from her ‘not-impressed’ face on the podium whilst accepting her silver medal in the Vault final.

 

The famous picture, McKayla Maroney is not impressed

Her new found fame suited her and she embraced the criticism and the attention she was given with grace after the famous picture took on a life of its own. After returning home from London she, along with the rest of the Fierce Five, embarked on a whirlwind tour of the US, appearing on talk shows and gracing red carpets including the red carpet at the MTV Video Music Awards. However, injury struck again when on the Kelloggs Tour of Gymnastics Championships, McKayla fractured her tibia and underwent 3 surgeries including surgery on her pre-existing toe injury.

On the ESPYS red carpet in 2013

However, once again we witnessed her grit and determination when less than a year later, McKayla graced the competition floor once again at the 2013 Secret US Classic, winning Vault and placing 3rd of Floor. She then went onto P&G Championships, where she again placed first on Vault and also placed first on Floor. Her incredible year was capped off at the 2013 World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium when she became World Vault Champion for the second time.

On the podium, after winning the gold medal at the 2013 World Championships

Sadly, however reports then came that McKayla was struggling with injuries in 2014, hopes were high that she would make a comeback and return ready to make a run for Rio and get the Olympic gold on Vault that she absolutely deserves. However that comeback never came, instead videos came from her YouTube channel, explaining that she had been struggling with depression. This saddened me greatly, and I, along with McKayla Maroney fans and the entire gymnastics community wanted more information, we wanted explanations and answers.

 

Vaulting at the 2013 World Championships

Our prayers were answered when the ever amazing Gymcastic podcast announced that they would be doing a sit down interview with her and she would be at her most candid. At her most candid, she certainly was. McKayla tackled the good, the bad and the ugly in the elite gymnastics world, addressing eating issues, coaching styles and the problems she faced with her health in recent years. It was a groundbreaking  interview that brought forward issues thought to be issues of the past in gymnastics. It should be watched by all gymnasts and parents of gymnasts in order to be aware of these issues and prevent problems arising. McKayla noted that now, she’s happy and whilst the sport of Gymnastics will always be a part of her, she is now moving on to other projects, with hopes to enter the entertainment industry, having already appeared in television shows such as ‘Bones’ and ‘The Heart of Dixie’.

Sky high vaulting from McKayla Maroney

We wish McKayla every success both professionally and personally.

The ever expressive, McKayla Maroney

McKayla Maroney gave the gymnastics world a vision of perfection. In a sport that continually seeks perfection, McKayla achieved it with her Vault in 2012.We forever remember Nadia Comaneci for her perfect 10 and McKayla should be remembered as such also, she achieved perfection on a Vault that wasn’t thought to be possible before 2000 and left the judges gasping. She set the standard for 2012 in vaulting terms, the Amanar was the vault to have in 2012 and McKayla Maroney was simply the best. Her personality, along with her vaulting and her expressive dance on floor will be missed, and have been missed in the last 2 years since her last competitive appearance in 2013. There was certainly something in the water in California during McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross’ childhood, they are both special girls and we wish them all the best in their new ventures.*

 

A moment of perfection that left the judges gasping

*Kyla Ross, childhood friend of McKayla Maroney and felloe Fierce Five member announced retirement from elite gymnastics on Monday. https://thecodeofpoints.wordpress.com/2016/02/22/kyla-ross-retires-from-elite-gymnastics/

Watch the full McKayla Maroney interview with Gymcastic’s, Jessica O’Beirne here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOx1jLcM1XM



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