Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Odds of McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross

There is a lot of buzz in the air about McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross returning to compete at nationals this year.  This has many people excited about them competing in Rio.  Knowing that in America it is very hard to compete in multiple Olympics, I've been wondering what rushing back into competition means in the grand scheme of things.  There are four years between Olympics, and many times, Olympians need a year or two break from the sport before returning to competition.  This got me thinking, what is the success rate of Olympians who returned the next year in their quest for a second Olympics?  I analyzed this for the past three quads, 2001, 2005, and 2009

2001 Nationals
Property of
Tasha Schwikert
After the 2000 Olympics, which at the time seemed like a failure for the US Women, Schwikert wanted redemption, which she got in 2001 and 2002 with back to back national titles in the AA, and tied for second in 2003.  She then helped team USA win their first ever World Championship Team Gold Medal.  After this however, Tasha has a string of injuries, and fall-outs with her coach lead to becoming an alternate on the Olympic team in 2004, when she was considered one of the best gymnasts of the quad.

2005 Nationals
No gymnasts from the 2004 Olympic team competed in the 2005 National Championships

2009 Nationals
Photo Property: NYU
Nastia Liukin
After a storied 2008 Olympics, Nastia Liukin competed on Beam at the 2009 National Championships, essentially a home meet for Liukin.  She removed herself from the 2009 World Championship Selection, due to being spread too thin and not being able to spend enough time to train.  After 2 years off, in October 2011, right after the 2011 World team won the team gold, she announced her plans to return to competition in an attempt to try for a spot on the 2012 Olympic Team.  With less than 10 months to get into top competition shape, many doubted her chances.  At the Secret Classic, she showed a very impressive beam set, making some believe she had a shot at the team.  Then, at the Visa National Championships and Olympic Trials, she faltered significantly on bars, and ending her career.
Property of Erin Long (

Bridget Sloan
The baby of the Beijing team did not stop training, and it earned her a National Championship All Around title over the pair from WOGA, Ivana Hong and Rebecca Bross.  The two, along with break-out first year senior Kayla Williams, joined Sloan in London at the 2009 World Championships.  While in London, Sloan took home the All Around gold medal, becoming the 5th American to do so, behind Kim Zmeskal, Shannon Miller (twice), Chellsie Memmel, and Shawn Johnson.  Following the championships, she had a string of injuyries, which despite of, she became the leader of the 2010 World Championship team, which won the silver medal, where she competed on bars only, due to injuries.  In addition to the team silver medal, she placed 4th in the bars event finals.  She battled even more injuries, causing her to be selected for the 2011 Pan American Games, a "B team" as the "A-Team" competed at the 2011 World Championships.  While in Guadalajara, she helps the team win a gold medal.  In 20123, Bridget returned to the all around, her first time doing so since winning the World title in 2009.  She placed 10th, with a relatively easy vault, a Yurchenko Full.  She was moved onto the Olympic Trials, but was unable to compete due to a last minute elbow injury while she warmed up on bars, thus ending her elite career.  She then moved onto NCAA gymnastics for the University of Florida, where she became the second NCAA All Around champion for Florida, as well as led them to their first ever NCAA Team title!
Property of UCLA

Sam Peszek
After the 2008 Beijing Olympics, for which Peszek was injured for last minute, Peszek's coach retired, which lead her to train under Marvin Sharp, where fellow 2008 Olympian Bridget Sloan trained.  She only competed 3 events at the 2009 Championships, due to a bruise which limited her on bars.  After a successful competition, she retired from elite gymnastics, and started NCAA gymnastics at UCLA in 2011.  Once at UCLA, she helped the team to a second place finish her freshman year and a third place finish her sophomore year, before tearing her Achilles berofre this season, thus redshirting the season.
Property of
Chellsie Memmel
After an injury riddled Olympics, 2005 World Champion Chellsie Memmel competed only beam at the 2009 National Championships, prior to taking a year off of gymnastics.  She returned to competition in 2011, looking as good as ever.  She was in 3rd place after the third rotation of the second day, before she suffered a season ending injury to her shoulder on bars, although it only became known of it's severity after she was named to the 2011 Pan-American games.  We all know the story, she competed at the 2012 Secret Classic on beam twice, and her petition to advance to nationals was denied, although she was named to the Pan-Am team.  This was highly conversational, and ended her elite career.

From the 5 Olympians in the past 3 quads, only 2 went on to be successful in the first year after the quad.  Maybe taking time off, like Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, and Jordyn Wieber have done, is the smart thing in terms of physical and mental health.  Just remember, it's a long four years until the next Olympics, and 2013 doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things.    


  1. Great blog - Greetings from Switzerland:)