Olympian McKayla Maroney Details "Traumatic" Aftermath of Her Gymnastics Retirement

McKayla Maroney spoke to Twitter followers about the physical and mental "costs" of pursuing Olympic glory, as well as her ongoing recovery after retiring from gymnastics in 2016.

By Cydney Contreras May 19, 2021 9:34 PMTags
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McKayla Maroney is opening up about "costs" of being an Olympic gymnast after retiring from the sport in 2016.

On Tuesday, May 18, the 25-year-old athlete responded to questions about her health after a mother tweeted her "parental concern" for her own daughter, who is considering pursuing gymnastics. 

McKayla reflected on her time as a professional athlete, writing, "I don't regret it because I can now be a voice to help girls like your daughter, but I also was extremely lucky to make the Olympic team."

She added that it's a "really good idea" to let the teen know about "all the possible costs" before letting her decide if this is the future she wants. As McKayla noted in a separate tweet, there's "never an easy day" when you're a gymnast of a high caliber. 

"I had a fractured shin, and a shattered and dislocated sesamoid bone, and my nose was still broken from my concussion the month prior," she replied to a video of herself on the vault . "Lots of gymnasts really compete with crazy injuries."

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According to McKayla, the sport also takes a toll on your mental health, which she wasn't prepared for when she first began her pursuit to a gold medal. She wrote, "I was never informed about the costs, and wish I would've known some of them. For example that it would take me 5 full years to mentally and physically heal from the intensity of what I went through."

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Not to say McKayla would've quit. She acknowledged that, despite the broken bones and bruises, "I was not going to stop until I went to an Olympics."

"Nobody's doubt was going to stop me after all the hard work I put in. It was my dream, and it felt like my purpose," she said of her own journey, before telling the Twitter user, "but if it feels forced, and she doesn't want it, and her bodies done. Take a break."

McKayla continued, "There's nothing wrong with taking space from the sport. People make comebacks. Healing an injury is extremely important for long term happiness and health. I gave up my 2016 Olympic dream cuz it would've killed me. That wasn't worth it to me. I was 18, and just over the abuse."

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The day after their conversation, McKayla shared she's writing a book about her experience, saying, "I'm extremely excited to share my story, and all the things I learned from being an elite gymnast. It felt too hard to write about before, but I'm ready now."

McKayla received support from fellow gymnast Aly Raisman, who experienced the same hardship in her career. Aly reflected, "Still struggling so much to recover. I'm so glad I have @McKaylaMaroney to talk to because she validates me & supports me. It's hard not be worry when it takes years & years to recover. It's crazy how much the years of training has impacted both of us."

In response, McKayla explained that having Aly makes her feel validated as she recovers, because "you feel like you're making it up sometimes, but you're not crazy, it's real."

"When you push your body to extremes like that, the aftermath is just as intense," she added. "Especially with the abuse we went through. Love you forever @Aly_Raisman."

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Mckayla and Aly competed together at the 2012 London Olympics, where their team was dubbed the Fierce Five. They were joined by Gabby DouglasKyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber.

Following the games, all five women came forward as survivors of former national team doctor Larry Nassar, who is currently serving time in a federal prison for the sexual assault of minors, in addition to possession of child pornography. 

McKayla went on to sue USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic Committee, alleging in court documents obtained by E! News that the organizations attempted to conceal Nassar's wrongdoing through confidential settlements. USA Gymnastics denied the claims.

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