One of the biggest names to watch for at this summer’s Visa National Championships will undoubtedly be McKayla Maroney. The all-around bronze medalist from last year’s junior nationals became famous for delivering what most would consider the best “Amanar” (2 ½ twisting Yurchenko) ever done during that competition, earning an almost unheard of 9.6 execution score. Her birthdate of December 9, 1995 makes her now age-eligible to compete with the seniors by a mere three weeks. Though she’s one of the youngest senior gymnasts in the country, the results she’s already achieved this year suggest she’s also one of the very best.
Most gymnastics experts would likely agree that Maroney’s super clean Amanar is perhaps the best vault in the entire world, and she has demonstrated enough consistency on it to be considered a legitimate world team contender for that event alone. But those who’ve actually watched the entire four event arsenal that the 15-year-old has to offer would argue that her potential goes far beyond just her stunning vault. In her senior international debut in Jesolo, Italy this March, Maroney topped the all-around standings with an impressive 57.85, shockingly eclipsing fellow senior rookie Jordyn Wieber just two weeks after Wieber won the American Cup over world all-around champion Aliya Mustafina. Granted, Wieber did suffer a fall on floor exercise at Jesolo, but even so, defeating a gymnast whom many consider to be a serious threat for this year’s world all-around title was a big, big deal for Maroney. This feat alone immediately elevated her status from junior event specialist to senior all-around star, and potentially a medal threat at this summer’s national championships and perhaps even the world championships this fall, should she be named to the team.
While her vault and floor were already standout events last year, it’s bars and beam where she has improved the most during her transition to a senior gymnast. She’ll still need more difficulty on some of the events to be considered team finals worthy for the USA team at worlds, but overall she has the form, the power, the technique, and the competitive ability to become a major player for the United States. Let’s take a look at the four routines that earned her that big international win just three months ago:
McKayla Maroney Vault 2011 Jesolo
McKayla Maroney Bars 2011 Jesolo
McKayla Maroney Beam 2011 Jesolo
McKayla Maroney Floor 2011 Jesolo
As you can see, she’s an extremely well-rounded gymnast with clean gymnastics and room to increase difficulty on bars, beam, and floor. With several uncertainties still in the mix for the world team, including Shawn Johnson, Bridget Sloan, Ivana Hong, and even a couple of world team holdovers from last year like Mattie Larson and Mackenzie Caquatto, it’s tough to say for sure exactly where Maroney will fit in. She’s got a vault so good it would be hard to resist putting it out on the world stage, and she’s got three solid events that could potentially be used if needed but may need some more upgrading to truly contribute. If she continues on her current trajectory, some big things could be in store for this youngster over the next year.