Even to the casual observer, it is obvious that McKayla Maroney is by far the best female vaulter in the world. The 16-year-old American gymnast is so much better than her competition it is almost laughable.
During the team final, Maroney stuck her extremely difficult Amanar vault and received a score of 16.233, by far the best of the competition.
On Sunday, during the individual vault final, she landed her Amanar and scored a 15.866. It was the top score of the day. However, she fell on her second vault—the easier of the two—and landed on her behind. She received a score of 14.300. The two scores are averaged out to 15.083.
Romania's Sandra Izbasa scored a 15.383 on her first attempt and 15.000 on the second. That gave her a combined score of 15.191, which was enough to slip past Maroney for an unexpected gold. Maria Paseka of Russia took home the bronze with a combined score of 15.050.
Maroney is the defending world champion. Her degree of difficulty on the Amanar vault is so far beyond any other in the competition that as long as she landed it she was expected to easily win the gold. The ironic thing is that she fell on her easier vault.
The Long Beach, California native has been battling a broken big toe, but she had looked almost completely unaffected by it.
Maroney was clearly disappointed on the medal stand, as she was not smiling when she was given the silver.
While most gymnasts only get one shot at the Olympics, there is an outside shot that Maroney could make an appearance in four years in Rio. Her vaulting skills are so far beyond anyone else in the world that, in a few years, she could still have a chance to make the American team solely for that event.
Only time will tell, but as of now, the fact that she isn't the Olympic champion on vault is a complete shock to the gymnastics world.
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