NEW YORK – Want to impress McKayla Maroney? Don’t say she’s “retiring.”
The two-time Olympic medalist said in an interview with gymnastics podcast Gymcastic released Wednesday that she’s stepping away from competition but not “retiring” from the sport.
“I don’t want anybody to think that McKayla is retiring,” Maroney said. “I don’t even want people to use that word … this is something I’m always going to be a part of it. I’m never leaving this sport.”
The 20-year-old helped the “Fierce Five” U.S. women’s gymnastics team to the gold medal at the 2012 Games and added a silver in the vault. Her peeved expression on the medal stand after slipping on her second vault, a miscue that cost her the gold, became an Internet sensation and she ended up doing her “not impressed” face with U.S. President Barack Obama.
Maroney admitted during the interview she competed with a fractured shin and a broken toe during the Olympics, though it didn’t stop her from putting together a dazzling vault at the start of the team finals that kickstarted the Americans’ run to the top of the podium.
“I did that stick for the team,” Maroney said. “That moment was definitely that Olympic moment. We all went up hit, hit, hit.”
While teammates Jordyn Wieber, all-around champion Gabby Douglas and three-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman retired or took lengthy sabbatical after London, Maroney returned to competition in 2013 despite getting hurt during a post-Olympic exhibition tour with the rest of Team USA. She earned a gold medal in vault at the 2013 world championships in Belgium to bookend the one she captured in 2011.
That triumph marked her final competition. Maroney has dealt with a series of medical concerns over the last two-plus years, including a bout with adrenal fatigue. She dabbled in acting and is working on a singing career.
Maroney’s announcement came two days after longtime friend and fellow Fierce Five teammate Kyla Ross announced her retirement from international competition to focus on her pending collegiate career at UCLA.