Olympic Hopeful McKayla MaroneyUSA's McKayla Maroney is not only part of the team that is favourite for the Gold medal in London, she is also the favourite for individual Gold in the vault final. Rumours of an injury have had people worried this week, but McKayla insists that she will still be vaulting at the Olympics if nothing else.
McKayla Maroney has not had an easy journey to the London 2012 Olympics. Back in 2011 she came 2nd all around to Jordyn Wieber and even beat her at the City of Jesolo Trophy earlier that year. Her phenomenal vaulting was helping her all around scores greatly and she was definitely one to watch. At the 2011 World Championships McKayla was part of the team that won the Gold medal, helping the team on both vault and floor. She also made it through to the vault final where the difficulty and beautiful execution of both her vaults meant that she easily took the Gold.
By 2012 things were not quite so easy for McKayla. Despite continuing to vault better than anyone else, many other American girls had started to compete the Amanar vault increasing their start value and all around scores greatly. McKayla also suffered inconsistencies on the other three apparatus. Coming in to the 2012 Visa National Championships it was obvious that she could greatly help the team on vault as well as hopefully take an individual medal, but would vault alone be enough? She would have to work hard to prove herself. She started well with a solid beam routine and a relatively good floor routine. Her vault was of course exceptional, as always, and by the end of the 3rd rotation she was in joint 3rd. Bars however has never been McKayla's strongest apparatus. She had a couple of falters and hit her feet on the low bar leaving her down in 7th place at the end of Day 1. Things then got even tougher for McKayla. While she was warming up on floor she fell on one of her tumbling passes. She was taken straight to hospital where she was diagnosed with a fractured nose and concussion. Despite this she was back in the arena by the end of the competition and petitioned to the USA Olympic Trials.
As the Olympic Trials approached there was much doubt as to whether McKayla would be recovered in time to compete. We should not have been worried, McKayla trained and competed as if there had never been a problem, despite having had to take a week off training at this vital time. She started excellently on vault proving to everyone yet again what an asset she would be on this apparatus. On bars and beam she struggled however, and fell on both apparatus. She recovered beautifully for floor though and gave a lovely performance. Although she was down in 7th place at the end of Day 1, she had posted brilliant scores on vault and floor which were the two pieces the USA would be most likely to need her for. She started Day 2 on bars where she struggled slightly but gave a much better performance than on Day 1. She then went on to give a stunning performance on beam but landed completely out of bounds on one her tumbling passes on floor earning her an automatic 0.500 deduction. Her vault, the apparatus she ended on, was virtually perfect.
Fortunately she had proved herself enough and was selected to the team, much to my delight. So training continued and the gymnasts travelled to London. But in London, McKayla started to worry us again, sitting out of training sessions and only ever warming up vault. Was she injured? Would she be able to compete? The rumours were endless but eventually we found out the truth. She had aggravated an old foot injury while training in London and was resting her foot but would definitely compete on vault if nowhere else. I have every admiration for this girl at the moment and her determination to make the most of her opportunity and compete for both herself and the team. In an interview with NBCOlympics.com McKayla said "Bad things happen, you just have to make the best of it. It does hurt. It's broken. How is it not going to hurt? I just try to ignore it and I have worked so hard to be here. I can ignore the pain for a little bit."
I really hope that McKayla can overcome all the problems she has faced to make it this far and gives the performances on vault that she is capable of. I would absolutely love to see her take the Olympic vault title, I think she thoroughly deserves it. Good luck McKayla.