Long Beach’s McKayla Maroney Defends Gold at World Vault Championship

World-class gymnast McKayla Maroney solidified herself as the world’s best female vaulter this weekend when she won gold for a second time at the World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium. 

In the vault finals, Maroney stuck a high-flying Amanar vault and received a score of 15.966, the highest-scoring vault in the compeition. Her second run earned her a 15.724, earning her the gold medal over teammate and eventual all-around winner Simone Biles by .129.

Biles took silver in the vault, making it the first time Americans had won both first and second place in a world championship meet. 

Maroney, a 17-year-old Long Beach native, won her first gold at the World Championships in 2011 and then took a silver medal in the event at the 2012 London Olympics after she landed a vault on her butt when she was all but poised to win gold. A photo of her “unimpressed” face on the podium soon went viral.

But a broken leg bone and three surgeries later, Maroney returned to competition this summer, not just in the vault–her speciality–but in the other three gymnastics events, where she also picked up titles at the national championships in August. 

“To be completely honest, it was kind of scary,” Maroney said in a video interview published by USA Gymnastics. “There definitely was some pressure on me…Looking back isn’t going to help you. Moving forward is the thing you have to do.”

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Sarah Bennett is a contributor to the Hi-lo and the editor-at-large at the Long Beach Post. She is also a professor at Santa Ana College where she was once a student before transferring to USC to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Sarah has written about music, art, food and beer in local, national and international publications for over a decade. An L.A. native and longtime resident of Long Beach, she is the co-founder of Long Beach Zine Fest and managing editor at theLAnd magazine. She never sleeps.