Someone has to stop with the sugarcoating and come out there and say it. McKayla Maroney, women gymnast on Team USA, is suffering from bad news.
Her recent toe injury is not a good sign for Team USA’s shot at the gold medal.
Maroney has always been a high-risk gymnast; there’s no doubt about it.
She is a vault specialist on a team that was narrowed down to only five slots. However, her skills with an Amanar vault were enough to nab her a spot on the team. She’s the defending world champion on the event considered a shoo-in for the gold medal in it.
Her score could boost Team USA up an entire point in the team standings.
According to the New York Times, Maroney broke the the big toe on her right foot in May and re-injured it in June. She continued to compete nonetheless. During training last week she did it a third time while dismounting the balance beam.
The reports about the injury have been seemingly positive, like Marta Karolyi to the New York Times:
Marta Karolyi, the U.S. women’s national team coordinator, said Maroney wasn’t forced to compete with the injury and that it is always the gymnast’s decision whether to continue. She said Maroney was “back to completely normal,” and that Maroney’s toe was just “bruised,” “strained,” but “never broken.”
Still, Karolyi said she will limit Maroney to competing only on vault. Before the injury, Maroney was likely to compete on vault and in the floor exercise.
In an interview with USA Today, Maroney seemed confident in her abilities after doing podium training, which is a formal workout with judges watching:
I hit both my vaults today; that's what I'm here to do. In my mind it's 100%.
I feel really good right now.
I’m here to be the "Debbie Downer" of the situation. Maroney’s vault routine was already a big risk, but she proved herself as a consistent vaulter. However, the likelihood of not nailing her vault with an injured toe is high. If she does not nail her vault, Team USA will seriously suffer.
It is a better idea to bring in one of the alternates with decent scores like Elizabeth Price or Sarah Finnegan. Although it is a less-than-ideal situation, it is the safest decision.
Alternate Anna Li is out of the mix because she tore a ligament in her neck after a fall from the uneven bars on Tuesday.
Maroney has a history of injuries that have been haunting her. She didn't even compete in the finals of the U.S. gymnastics championships because she showed signs of a concussion and was hospitalized after hitting her head.
I think these injuries are a sign that she is just not the best bet to compete in London.
One might argue that she can compete injured, pointing to Kerri Strug’s heroic vault the last time Team USA won an Olympic gold medal in gymnastics. Strug landed a vault on a sprained ankle to help propel the Americans to the gold.
Yes, that is a moment that will forever be documented in the gymnastics history books. But Maroney making or breaking her vault because of a broken toe will not be that memorable.
The risk of having Maroney compete has always been big. Now, it is to big too take that risk.