Defending world vault champion McKayla Maroney missed out on winning a gold in the women’s’ vault finals Sunday by falling and settling for a silver.
Entering the event, Maroney was considered a sure bet for the gold medal. Her vault score in the team all-around — an incredible 16.233 — was the highest in the competition.
While Maroney didn’t fail to impress on her first vault attempt, earning a 15.866 (the best score of the night), she came up short on the landing during her second go, fell backwards on her behind and paid the price with a score of 14.300.
The next and last competitor of the event, Sandra Raluca Izbasa of Romania, took advantage of the McKayla’s mishap and edged her out for gold, 15.191 to 15.083.
“It happens, it’s gymnastics and you can’t be perfect and sometimes things don’t go as you planned,” Maroney told reporters. “I didn’t deserve to to win gold if I landed on my butt. I’m not disappointed about the silver, I’m disappointed about my performance.”
When asked what went wrong on her second vault, which ironically was the easiest of her two attempts, Maroney said:
“My hands didn’t even touch the vault. I thought it was a little off, but I didn’t know how to change it at that point. It’s gymnastics. It happens.”
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that on the medal stand, Maroney looked more angry than upset. After the ceremony, her eyes began to fill with tears as she received comforting words from her coach.
“I just wanted to prove to everybody that I can hit two vaults and do my best for U.S.A., that’s what I’m disappointed about,” Maroney said. “Just about how I trained so hard, and, just on this day, it didn’t go.”
McKayla Maroney’s silver finish in the 2012 Olympic Women’s vault final was her second Olympic medal and fifth overall career medal. In addition to her gold in the women’s team competition, McKayla also previously won gold for American during the 2011 World Championships, 2011 Visa Championships and 2012 Pan American Championships.