Breathtaking Vaulter McKayla Maroney at Heart of US Olympic Gymnastics Title

Emily BayciContributor IIIJuly 31, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31:  Mc Kayla Maroney of the United States competes on the vault in the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Team final on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at North Greenwich Arena on July 31, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

They should have just handed the Americans the women’s gymnastics team the gold medal after McKayla Maroney nailed her vault during the first rotation of the team finals on Tuesday.

Maroney’s vault gave Team USA a 1.7-point lead in the first rotation, and none of the other teams were ever able to catch up.

Vault was the only reason Maroney was on the Olympic roster, her vault is just that good. There were people, myself included, who thought that Maroney’s recent toe injury was going to stop her from landing her vault. I admit it I was wrong and, without Maroney’s, vault I don’t know if Team USA would have won the gold.

Her hit vault sealed a perfect first rotation for Team USA. Jordyn Wieber went first, with the best vault she’s ever done, and Gabby Douglas went second with another amazing Amanar.

All the American’s can hit Amanars, which are considered the most difficult and dangerous vaults in the world. It consists of a round-off onto the board, then a back handspring onto the table and 2.5 twisting somersaults before the landing. It’s start value is a 6.5, which is more than .5 points better than the other gymnasts.

Maroney’s vault is the best in the world by far, and it showed on Tuesday just like in every other day of competition. She gets so much air on her flips that it is a wonder cameramen are able to keep her in the screen.

And she sticks it every time with breathtaking force and consistency.

"We definitely started the competition with a bang," Maroney said in an interview with Nancy Armour of the Associated Press.

The Americans (48.132) outscored every country on vault—the closest was Russia (46.366), 1.766 points behind. 

Maroney led the field, which was expected of her.

“There never has been a female gymnast who can vault like McKayla Maroney," said NBC analyst Tim Daggett, a member of the 1984 U.S. men's gymnastics gold-medal team in an interview with the Los Angeles Daily News.  "There's not a more dominant team in the world in any event than the Americans are on vault."

"She's at least two feet higher than anyone else in the world," Daggett said. "The most impressive piece of gymnastics at that entire world championships for men and women would be (Maroney) on vault. It's just jaw-dropping great."

If Maroney hits her vault, there is no question that she will win the gold medal on the apparatus. With the track record she has so far in Olympic competition, there’s no way she’s missing that vault. 

Let the American women’s gymnastics domination continue.