Olympic Gymnastics 2012: Is McKayla Maroney a Lock for Vault Gold?

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31:  Mc Kayla Maroney of the United States of America celebrates her performance 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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Now that the team and individual all-around medals have been handed out in women's gymnastics, the focus shifts to the singular events of the 2012 Olympics. One name that has been in the spotlight is American vault superstar McKayla Maroney, who seems like a lock to at least medal in that event. 

Maroney's performance on the vault in Team USA's triumph in the all-around competition was as good as any singular performance on the team. Everyone but the judges, who couldn't even keep their jaws locked after seeing her stick the landing, thought that was as perfect a vault as we have ever seen. 

The vault is Maroney's event. She is in London strictly because of the vault; she is not doing any other events, though part of that can be attributed to a broken toe she suffered just before the start of the Olympics. 

Along with Gabby Douglas, Maroney has become the face of the United States gymnastics team. Her vault has been parodied on The Colbert Report.

We like to think that athletes are invincible, but now Maroney is under more pressure than ever before to not only perform, but equal or top herself. That is a lot to put on the shoulders of a 16-year-old. I don't care how great they are. 

However, looking at her past, Maroney has never stumbled in a major event. We talked about the vault in the team all-around competition, but going back further, she won gold at the 2011 World Gymnastics Championships and Visa Championships. 

Maroney is, without question, the most dominant vaulter in the world right now. Whether we are putting too much pressure or too many expectations on her is irrelevant, because she has shown the world what she can do. 

So getting back to the central premise: Is Maroney a lock for gold in the vault?

The simplest answer is, yes. Maroney might have all the pressure in the world on her to perform, but she has never given anyone any reason to doubt her in this event. 

In sports, anything can happen at any given moment. Maroney could stumble on the landing, or not catch as much air as she usually does at the jump. She could do a lot of things. 

Yet as we look at things objectively, there is no one you could say is better than Maroney in this event, and her performance up to this point has justified that.