McKayla Maroney fails to land her dismount in the women's vault final. (Ronald Martinez / Getty…)
LONDON -- Even Olympic all-around gold medalist Gabrielle Douglas is in awe of McKayla Maroney's delicately sky-high amanar vault, but on Sunday, Maroney, a 16-year-old from Long Beach who had been a strong favorite to win the gold medal, settled for the vault silver after she landed her second vault by sitting down.
Sandra Izbasa, a 22-year-old from Romania, won the gold medal by having a combined score of 15.191 on her two vaults.
Maroney, wearing white, seemed well on her way to the gold medal when she landed her amanar, the toughest vault done by women, with only a small hop. She got a 15.866, the best score of the night. But on her second vault, one that is much easier, Maroney fell. She was almost in tears as she walked away. Her score of 14.300 on the fallen vault gave her a combined 15.083, which still put her in first place with just Izbasa left. But Maroney seemed to know she had lost the top spot. She was almost unable to watch Izbasa do two competent vaults.
Izbasa got a 15.383 on her first effort; a 15.000 on the second and the combined score of 15.191. As the Romanians celebrated, Maroney appeared as if she needed a hug. Maria Paseka of Russia got the bronze.
The only other American competing in Sunday's three-event finals, Jake Dalton of Reno, Nev., finished fifth in the floor exercise. Zou Kai of China won the gold he had also earned four years ago, with new Olympic all-around champion Kohei Uchimura getting the silver and Denis Ablyazin of Russia earning bronze. Ablyazin made a decision in first grade to switch from BMX training and go inside to the gym.
Maroney is the defending world vault champion and after suffering a concussion and broken nose after taking a hard fall on her floor exercise at the national championships, it was decided Maroney would concentrate on her vault. And when she did a near-perfect amanar during the team final that scored a 16.233, a score no one could come close to, it was as if Maroney had already been counted on as the vault gold medalist.
Her amanar Sunday wasn't quite as perfect but it was the second vault, the easier one, that did Maroney in. On the medal podium Maroney could hardly muster a smile for the silver.
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