Born on December 9, 1995 to Mike and Erin Maroney, McKayla was a natural gymnast.
“When I was younger, I would be watching Tarzan and running around on all fours. My mom was like ‘I need to put this child in gymnastics. She’s crazy.’”
At nine years old she moved to train at Gym-Max in Costa Mesa, California with the intent of winning Olympic Gold like her idol Carly Patterson. Although she displayed great skill from an early age, she was concerned that she might out-grow her Olympic dreams. “I thought, how am I going to stay this little? I was worried that I was going to be really tall because my dad is 6’3″ and my mom is 5’2″, so I didn’t know which one I was going to be.”
She has two siblings, Tarynn and Kav, and is home schooled to maintain her rigorous training schedule.
Visa 2012 Championships
During the Visa 2012 Championships, McKayla suffered a minor concussion and nasal fracture during warm ups. She still completed the Olympic Trials.
London 2012 Olympics
Despite a broken toe, McKayla won a Gold medal for Team USA and a Silver medal for her individual Vault.
McKayla, avoiding breaking bones, wants to continue training and competing.
McKayla began her official competitive career in 2009 at the Visa Championships in Dallas, where she scored 104.800 and placed twenty-seventh in the all-around competition. She placed third in the vault finals, completing an Amanar, one of the most difficult to achieve vaults. At only thirteen years old, McKayla was excited and encouraged by her performance, saying that”I just did it, and I was just very happy that I landed on my feet.”
Starting in 2010, McKayla began training at the All Olympia Gymnastics Center in Los Angeles, California with Artur Akopyan and Galina Marinova to maximize her potential. In a series of consecutive improving performances, she competed at the CoverGirl Classic in Chicago (Seventh Place), The Visa Championships in Connecticut (Third Place, First on Vault), and the Pan American Championships in Mexico (First in Vault and First on Floor).
McKayla continued to train and compete in 2011 towards her dream of the London 2012 Olympics. She competed at and scored first place in the all-around competition at the City of Jesolo Trophy in Italy. In July she once again participated at the CoverGirl Classic in Chicago, placing sixth on the balance beam and fifth on floor.
At the Visa Championships in Minnesota she placed second in the all-around competition and first on the vault.
McKayla participated for Team USA in the 2011 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Tokyo, Japan. Her excellent performance on the vault and floor contributed to the team’s first place finish, with McKayla first on the vault.
Starting with the new year, McKayla added a new maneuver to her vault routine. Known as a Mustafina, it consists of a round-off, half-on, full-twisting front layout. She still uses the Amanar as her primary vault.
McKayla re-visited Italy for the City of Jesolo Trophy. This year she placed third in the all around competition. She placed first on the vault at the Secret U.S. Classic in Chicago in May, and in June participated in the Visa Championships in Missouri. After the first day of competition, McKayla suffered an injury during warm ups. She fell during a tumbling pass and was taken to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with a minor concussion and a nasal fracture.
After a week break from training, McKayla petitioned and was allowed to compete at the Olympic Trials in San Jose, California.
Scoring first on the vault, fifth on the floor, and seventh all-around, McKayla was chosen as a member of the USA Team for the 2012 Summer Games. Accompanying her to London will be long-time best friend Kyla Ross, saying “it’s just so amazing. I’m in shock right now.”
During Olympic training McKayla aggravated a previous broken bone in her right foot, but still plans to compete for the vault. “Bad things happen, you just have to make the best of it.”
2012 – London Olympics
McKayla and the rest of the women’s gymnastics team (which she helped dub the “Fierce Five” with team mate Jordyn Wieber) headed to London with high expectations but a healthy respect for the intense competition from the international athletic community.
During the final, McKayla contributed a score of 16.233 for Team USA, the highest in the competition, and helped the United States achieve Olympic Gold. Her execution score of 9.733 was the highest at the Olympics under the new scoring system.
The rest of the team, dubbed the Fab Five, gave a superstar performance, earning the USA their first Olympic gymnastic team Gold medal since 1996. “I just wanted them to do so well and I’m just so proud of them. I was screaming and yelling,” says McKayla about the event.
McKayla’s long time friend and team mate Kyla Ross contributed scores of 14.933 on uneven bars and 15.133 on balance beam for the US team.toward the American team’s gold medal finish. Regarding the team’s performance, Kyla said “We are all really proud of each other. It was really fun watching floor. McKayla and I were together cheering as loud as we could. We were screaming so loud.”
With a nearly flawless Amanar, McKayla’s first vault scored 15.866, and a score of 9.666 for execution. The Mustafina vault was off by a millimeter, resulting in a slip at the finale and a score of 14.3. McKayla’s performance, despite slipping, was still amazing enough to earn a silver medal, if only by a hair. “The silver medal is actually pretty sick!!” says McKayla, still proud of her attempt, “everything happens for a reason!!” With this year’s events behind her, McKayla has only the future to look forward to.
During the awards ceremony, McKayla gave a brief look of disappointment, and the image quickly became associated with an Internet meme called “McKayla is not impressed.” McKayla finds the photo hilarious, but wants the world to know she was only disappointing in herself, and has no ill-will associated with Romanian Sandra Izbasa.
2008 Olympic all-around champion Nastia Liukin weighs in on McKayla’s first Olympic experience: “She is still an Olympic Champion… and an Olympic Champion is for life.”