With the London 2012 Olympics around the corner and fans giddy with anticipation, the knowledge that McKayla Maroney, the star vaulter on the U.S. women's gymnastics team, is injured leaves one with a queasy feeling.
That is because Maroney is not just the world champion on this event, but the team is depending on a big score from her to add to the team all-around tally.
According to the New York Times, Maroney broke the big toe on her right foot last May and re-injured it again in June. She continued to compete nonetheless. During training last week she did it again while dismounting balance beam.
U.S. National team coordinator Marta Karolyi didn't believe the toe was broken, but only sprained, adding it is always the gymnast's choice as to whether or not compete at any competition.
So much for sugar coating. Maroney tells it differently.
“On my beam routine, my round-off dismount, I split my big right toe,” she said. “It was already broken, I just split it more.”
For now, lots of ice is on hand to keep any swelling at bay and the athlete is also receiving acupuncture treatments. However, Karolyi has decided to pull Maroney from competing on floor exercise, but she will vault in the preliminaries. Kyla Ross will most likely take her spot on floor-ex.
The news was not so good for Anna Li, who reportedly pulled a ligament in her neck from a fall off bars Thursday. She left the Birmingham, England training facility to be checked out at a hospital. Tests included an MRI and a cat scan that failed to show any major damage.
Still, Li is out as an alternate to the team. Elizabeth Price and Sarah Finnegan remain on the roster, though no word yet from USA Gymnastics as to whether or not Li will be replaced.
What does this mean for the team gold? Frankly, not much provided the original five remain capable of competing. Li's departure would only spell trouble if Gabby Douglas got hurt, as bars are her strong suit. The next logical replacement would be Price.
Still, the U.S. can ill afford any more injuries. With Romania and Russia breathing down their necks, it is imperative the team remain intact and injury free from here on out.