McKayla Maroney Vault: Less-Than-Perfect Score Doesn't Stifle Event Greatness

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 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

If you had the honor of watching the United States women’s gymnastics team win their first gold medal since the 1996 Olympics on Tuesday, you likely saw the greatest vault in Olympic history from McKayla Maroney.

The problem was it didn’t even get a perfect score, and that is the biggest travesty of the 2012 Summer Olympics so far.

The case can be made that in all the years of gymnastics at the Olympics, there has never been a vault more perfectly executed from start to finish than the one Team USA’s star vaulter Maroney pulled in Day 4.

Despite the amazement on the faces of the judges at the height of the jump and the perfection of the landing, they somehow denied the young American the glory of perfection.

While there is no doubt that the other women on Team USA helped earn that gold medal, the performance by vault ace Maroney stole the show. Vault was not Team USA's best event, and they brought Maroney to London to be the team's saving grace in that event.

Team USA set the table for Maroney's success, and she jumped over it with authority!

To explain the vault and how it works, Bleacher Report’s own Emily Bayci explains exactly how dangerous the event is and what it consists of:

All the Americans 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. Its start value is a 6.5, which is more than .5 points better than the other gymnasts.

On paper, the explanation doesn’t do the difficulty of the event justice.

Maroney achieved height off the table never seen before in the women’s division and followed it up with perfect execution and a landing to use as a teaching tool.

If there was ever perfection in the vault, this was it.

While the judges got the score wrong, fans of the sport know just how incredible what Maroney did for Team USA was.

For all the skeptics unsure of bringing a one-event ace to the Olympics, the gold medals have answered the questions emphatically.

Check back for more on the 2012 Summer Olympics as it comes, and don’t miss Bleacher Report’s Olympics page to get your fill of the best athletes the world has to offer.


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