Still reveling in her victory on vault at last month's world gymnastics championships in Tokyo, McKayla Maroney of the U.S. told IG she plans to devote the rest of the year to fine-tuning her performances in preparation for the Olympic year of 2012.
2011 world vault champion McKayla Maroney (U.S.)
"For the next couple of months, I'll just be training at my gym," said Maroney, who placed first on vault and first with the U.S. team in Tokyo. "No (U.S. training) camps or competitions for a little bit. So it's a good time for me to perfect my skills."
Maroney, who is coached by Galina Marinova and Artur Akopyan at All Olympia Gymnastics Center in Los Angeles, plans to upgrade at least one of her vaults. She won the gold medal in Tokyo with an Amanar (2-1/2 twisting Yurchenko) as her first vault; and a round-off, half-on, layout barani as her second vault.
Maroney hopes to compete her new second vault, a Cheng (round-off, half-on, layout Rudi), "as soon as possible."
A triple-twisting Yurchenko vault is also a possibility to replace her Amanar. "Well, I have to learn it first, but that would be really cool," she said.
Maroney credits self-assurance for helping her build momentum as she progressed through the qualifications, team finals and vault apparatus final in Tokyo.
"For every competition, I just went in there with confidence in myself and in my team, and each day it felt like i gained more and more experience," she said.
Earlier this week, Maroney took a break from training to enjoy a typical Halloween evening on Oct. 31. Her candy costume was coincidentally related to her initials.
"This year my friends and I were M&Ms," she told IG. "We've always celebrated Halloween at my house with family and friends. It's also my dads birthday, so we celebrate that, too!"
Read "It's Showtime!," a profile on Maroney, in the May 2011 issue of International Gymnast magazine; and read more about Maroney's victory in IG's 2011 world championships special issue (December 2011). To subscribe or order back issues, click here.