McKayla Maroney is undoubtedly the most popular gymnast (or maybe even Olympian) at the moment. But the fame isn’t stemming from her magnificent vault in the team competition anymore – it is now directed at her lackluster acceptance of the silver medal in the vault final from Sunday night. That expression, oozing with disappointment, has created a pretty funny Tumblr meme, but nonetheless, the Internet is ablaze over the “bratty” attitude her face conveys.
Now, the Olympian is being accused of being a sore loser, entirely ungrateful and lacking good sportsmanship because of her poorly timed frown. Moreover, some pretty despising insults and pejoratives are being hurled at the 16-year-old girl. But does this one expression and her overall behavior at the Olympics warrant such disdain? Is she actually a mean girl?
McKayla Maroney had only two vaults to execute in Sunday’s vault final. First, she repeated the same routine that garnered her high praise in the team competition, but this time with a slight hop in the landing. Second, she chose a less difficult vault but could not stick the landing by a long-shot – she fell on her butt. Announcers were speechless after proclaiming the competition was in the bag for Maroney.
She ended up placing second in the competition behind Raluca Izbasa of Romania. A silver medal after a bad landing? That is quite telling of the degree of difficulty she infuses into her vaults. But it wasn’t perfect, and she deemed her performance detrimental by her high standards. So when she stood upon the medal stand, draped in an unenthused air, she was reeling in the missed opportunity that took years to hone. In an interview with USA Today, Maroney explained her frown:
I didn’t deserve to win gold if I landed on my butt… It’s more of a shock… I’m not disappointed about the silver. I’m disappointed about my performance.
We all know how much these gymnasts train from childhood. Their blood, sweat and tears are ultimately worth the pain just to make it to the final stage of their hard work – the Olympics. McKayla spent countless hours perfecting the vault, the only event she came to London to participate in. The event’s final was her time to shine and she fell short of wowing the world after much anticipation.
She simply couldn’t muster a smile after she let her country and herself down. But viewers were incensed by her expression, a shifty gaze and womp-womp twitch in her frown raised outcries of unappreciative behavior and lack of dignity and grace on an honorable stage. People have thrown “brat”, “bitch”, “diva” and even more hateful attacks at her. Combined with McKayla’s persona throughout the entire competition which emitted no smile or bubbly personality, but a stoic look of focus and poise, people are sure that she is a mean girl with an icy attitude.
McKayla has since tried to remove herself from this ugly light she has been swept into. She took to her Twitter to dispel rumors of her unsportsmanlike conduct towards her fellow competitors, and she gave interviews to put drama over her supposed attitude to rest.
What do you think of the verbal attacks on McKayla Maroney? Are they justified? Do you think she could have composed herself better on the podium?