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American gymnast McKayla Maroney entered Sunday's individual vault final as the clear gold-medal favorite. The 2011 world champion helped the U.S. squad secure team gold on Tuesday and is considered a global virtuoso on vault.
However, the 16-year-old couldn't stick the landing on her second of two attempts and slid into second place, settling for silver. If Maroney had managed to complete a beautiful handspring, she would have easily taken the gold medal that many marked down for her months ago.
Instead, Romania's Sandra Izbasa stepped to the top of the podium. Her average score of 15.191 points edged out Maroney's 15.050.
In the gymnastics world, this qualifies as a substantial Olympic upset.
“It happens,” Maroney told The New York Times. “It’s gymnastics, and you can’t be perfect. Sometimes, things don’t go as planned. I don’t blame it on anything else. I just messed up.”