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Olympic Gymnast McKayla Maroney on Getting Back Into the Gym and Finally Being Impressed

McKayla Maroney is back in the gym healthy, healed and has her eyes set on another Olympics!

Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney might have been less than impressed with her vault silver medal at the 2012 Olympic Games, but her attitude these days is straight gold. I got the chance to chat with Maroney as she helped launch TEN, a line of 10 calorie sodas from the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group on the lessons she learned in London, recovering from injury and what she thinks about teammate Aly Raisman’s Dancing with the Stars announcement.

I love that the tagline for the TEN campaign is “McKayla is finally impressed.” Are you so sick of hearing about and seeing your not impressed face all over the Internet?

I wouldn’t say I am sick of it, but it definitely comes up in every topic with every person I talk to. It’s great that now I can turn it into something positive, and be impressed with TEN. My favorite out of the line is the Sunkist TEN; I have always loved orange soda so now I can enjoy it without all the sugar.

What are some of the lessons you learned from your time in London at the 2012 Summer Olympics?

The first thing I learned was how to deal with the media. I came to the Games and I had no media experience and I didn’t know how to take it all with a grain of salt. All of us on the team had our media issues, Gabby with her hair and then my face – so we had to learn how to let it roll off our backs. At the beginning it was hard, because I was just a gymnast. I was never famous, I was used to being in the gym eight hours a day and I never had anyone judging me because of my face, they were judging me on my gymnastics! Now I handle life way better and I’m actually happy that it happened because nothing hurts my feelings anymore. And since I want to get into acting I have to be ready for a lot more of that kind of attention.

You fell and fractured your tibia during the Kellogg’s Tour back in September. How are you feeling?

I’m feeling so much better and I’ve been getting back in the gym, finally! I really want to go to the next Olympics and the World Championships are also coming up. That’s a little crazy for me to shoot for but I’m going to try anyway because I love gymnastics. The most important thing though is that my body feels good and I feel healthy. I’ve had three different surgeries, but the biggest one was my toe surgery after the Olympics. People were telling me that I would never by a gymnast again if I competed at the Games with that broken toe. So I just said to myself, 'Well, I’m here and I’m doing it' so I just went for it and then had basically a miracle surgery after that. I’m blessed that I can even walk and I’m back on the beam, so I’m very thankful for that.

How did you recover from your injury from the Kellogg’s Tour?

I was in a full leg boot from the top of my leg all the way down. I have a huge scar and had two screws the size of my nose in my leg, and I still have a screw in one of my toes. It’s such an intense recovery, I could only walk on my heel on one leg and I couldn’t bend the other leg for 8 weeks. That ended up messing up my hips because you can’t walk like that! It was hard to come back from that. I’m an active person aside from gymnastics and I couldn’t even go for a walk—all I could do was sit and watch everyone else performing on the tour. That was really hard for me; I’ve never had to do that before. But I learned a lot about injuries and that you have to be patient and let your body heal and be smart! I rushed a couple things – I had my screws taken out two days before my birthday and I started walking right away. The doctor told me that I should take it easy and I didn’t listen and ended up getting an infection because I did too much too soon. Basically, I learned a lot of stuff the hard way!

How do you stay in shape? What do you like to do besides gymnastics?

My favorite thing is probably bike riding with my family. I live in Long Beach, CA so it’s nice to go by the beach and enjoy the scenery. I also love tennis and ice-skating, though I can’t do that anymore because my coach would kill me if I hurt myself doing that!

You’ve mentioned that you want to get more into acting. If you could work with anyone in Hollywood who would it be?

Angelina Jolie, Mila Kunis and George Clooney-all three!

It was recently announced that your teammate Aly Raisman is going to be on Dancing with the Stars. Is that something you would ever consider doing?

I was asked to do it but I turned it down because I am back in the gym training for the Olympics. Gymnastics comes first, but maybe one day in the future I would. It’s such a fun thing and it’s awesome that they are representing gymnasts on it. Shawn Johnson did it and now Aly Raisman and then hopefully more from there. I’m excited for her and I know she’s going to do really well.