McKayla Maroney earned a team gymnastics gold medal at the London Olympics, but she became a meme after her silver-medal performance.
The U.S. gymnast inadvertently turned social media sensation — “McKayla is not impressed” — with a face she made after receiving her vault silver medal. Maroney was the overwhelming favorite for gold, but she fell on her second of two vaults and was passed by Romanian Sandra Izbasa.
Maroney and the 2012 U.S. Olympic gymnastics team are featured on NBCSN’s Olympic Games Week on Thursday night. A full schedule is here.
“I remember doing the face for literally two seconds,” Maroney said in a 2014 Inside Gymnastics video interview. “Like, if you watch the video, it’s two seconds. And I remember thinking, did I just make a face? Because it’s natural. I do it all the time. I have pictures of me when I’m little doing it. I have it on my Mac computer when I’m like 13.”
It wasn’t until she returned to her room in the Athletes’ Village that night that she learned about the global reaction to her face. She received a text message from her dad and searched the internet. She found Photoshopped images of her looking not impressed next to NASA’s Mars rover, rainbows and Mozart.
She didn’t mind the meme so much as the fall.
“I was sad. I was upset. And I was not impressed,” Maroney said, noting that she could not sleep for five nights, mentally replaying the fall.
Her first thought after dropping to silver was that she needed to return for the 2016 Rio Olympics. She competed through 2013, repeating as world champion on vault, but decided to retire in 2015 after a series of health problems that began before the London Games.
“There’s definitely moments in your life that changed it,” Maroney said of that day of the Olympic vault final, “and that was definitely No. 1.”
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