LONDON -- McKayla Maroney has mastered the Amanar, arguably the hardest vault in the world. She has such a good command of the skill, that after she scored a 16.233 in the team final -- the highest score yet in the women's competition -- her coach suggested they rename the vault “The Maroney.”
In Sunday’s vault final, Maroney was clearly the favorite. The reigning world champion nailed her first vault, the Amanar, scoring a 15.866 – the highest score of the day so far, by 0.466 points.
The crowd erupted in a loud applause, as some spectators even gave the 16-year-old a standing ovation.
Maroney walked back down the runway confidently in her all-white, long-sleeved sparkling leotard. It was time for her second attempt.
“There are a lot of other vaults I could have done,” Maroney said. “But I wouldn’t have done them.”
Maroney is a fierce competitor. So she did a high-difficulty Yurchenko half-on, front layout full off, and did something she hasn’t done in months. She fell.
Maroney won the silver medal in the women's individual vault competition on Sunday afternoon at North Greenwich Arena. Her final score of 15.083 was 0.108 behind the gold medal score of Romania's Sandra Raluca Izbasa, who earned a 15.191 for her two vaults.
Maroney said she didn’t get her block on her second attempt, and that’s why she fell. She scored a 14.300, and because the two scores are averaged in the final, it wasn’t good enough for gold.
She also learned a valuable life lesson: Sometimes in life, things happen.
“I don't think I've ever even fallen in warm up here at all,” Maroney said. “All I can look forward to is the next competition coming up and I just have to accept that I have a silver medal and that's not too bad."
Not too bad at all. Especially considering Maroney is only 16, helped the U.S. to win its first team gold medal in 16 years, and also has a whole career ahead of her.
In fact, Maroney expects to get back on the vault tomorrow.
“Just to stay in shape,” Maroney said. “If I got a gold medal, or I didn’t get a gold medal, I would still vault tomorrow.”
Earlier in the day, Jake Dalton placed fifth in the men’s floor exercise.
His score of 15.333 was 0.6 behind China's Zou Kai, who posted a 15.933 to win the gold medal.
Dalton only had a few minor mistakes in his routine, but knew he would have to be perfect to medal since other gymnasts had much higher levels of difficulties in their routines.
“I was trying to be perfect, but overall I was just trying to go out there and have fun,” Dalton said. “As I said, I knew I would have to be basically perfect with my start value and the other guys' start values that they hit today."
When asked if he did have fun in the finals, Dalton simply smiled.
"Going out there and competing with the top eight is pretty exciting,” he said. “And a good rush of adrenaline."