McKayla Maroney’s Coaches Respond

by | Mar 16, 2016 | Articles

IMG_0112On February 23rd, 2016 Olympic Gold medalist McKayla Maroney told the world she couldn’t do gymnastics anymore. In her exclusive interview with GymCastic Maroney shared details of the combination of injuries and mental strain that led to her deteriorating health. In the interview she brings attention to issues of athlete welfare, both at the national team level and by her personal coaches, that led to her decision to leave competiton. Her coaches have now responded to that interview. Here is her full interview, their response and photos her coaches asked us to include with their reply.

1. In a few sentences can you give us a brief summary of your backgrounds and how you got started coaching?

Artur: I competed for the former Soviet Union team. I was the first male gymnast who executed a tsukahara layout with a double twist on vault, which was not accomplished in the next few years. I scored three perfect 10’s during the world championships. I started coaching in Russia and was involved with the Junior National team boys program and then moved to the United States where I continued to search for a coaching position. I became a National Coach for the US National Team and continued coaching for the next 20 years. During that time I became partners with All Olympia Gymnastics Center and in 2003 we opened our 2nd location in Calabasas.

Galina: I competed for the Bulgarian National Team at the 79/81 World Championships and made the All-Around Finals. I also was an All-Around finalist in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow and I competed in the Los Angeles Olympics test event in 1984, after which Russia and Bulgaria demonstrated a boycott of the Olympics. This led me to not compete at that particular Olympic games. However, I made my mind to come back and live and work in Los Angeles. After I arrived in Los Angeles, I began to work as a gymnastics coach. In 2000 I opened my own club, better known as “All Olympia Gymnastics Center.” I am also an international brevet judge, as well as a specialist in dance and choreography.

2. Your gymnasts are known for their outstanding artistry and impeccable technique and form. How do you achieve this so consistently year after year?

It’s natural, it comes from your heart, your soul, your mind. You can’t teach technique from a book. You teach from your experience; you can’t be consistent if you don’t know what you’re doing. You have to work hard and have dedication on a daily basis.

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3. Did you both watch or listen to the entire interview with McKayla? What are your thoughts on the interview?

Galina: Yes, I listened to the whole interview and was very disappointed. After, I went to my room and watched Kobe Bryant’s retirement documentary. Listening to him talk about how hard he worked for all his accomplishments and how he overcame his struggles was inspiring. From that instant I completely forgot about the McKayla interview. I went into work the same day feeling motivated to continue working hard and helping kids achieve their goals.

Artur: I heard a few things she said and stopped listening. What she said did not sound like her. It sounds to me like she was influenced by outside people, she is a good girl. She’s lucky to have outstanding parents, coaches and whoever surrounded her throughout her career–people who supported her dreams and helped her achieve her goals.

4. Do you have a response to anything she specifically said during the interview?

We enjoyed every step of the process, while McKayla was at All Olympia Gymnastics Center. She went from not known to a much known and “Not impressed” McKayla Maroney. She was very determined and worked very hard. Nothing was going to stop her until she got to the Olympics, we loved this about her. Without this hard work and mindset, it is impossible to become a champion. We don’t understand why, in the end, she was not appreciative if she achieved the goals she came to us with. After two years she has such bad things to say, it doesn’t make sense if we did everything in our power to make her become a World and Olympic Champion.

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5. In the interview, she said she lost the joy for gymnastics. She believes there is a “better way.”

We pushed her to help her achieve her goals. She couldn’t do a giant when she came to our gym. Her start value was 3.8 on bars before we started working with her. A year after joining AOGC she became 2nd All-Around in the USA Senior Women’s National Championships. We put our heart out for her. She moved from Gym Max to our gym for only one reason, to achieve her goals. After the Olympics her focus changed, she wanted to be an actor/singer. We all assumed her focus changed and she became passionate about other projects after she achieved her goals in gymnastics.

6. There is a history in gymnastics of holding on to old traditions and coaching methods. Do you believe that there is a better way, if so, is that something you are working on?

If we are not producing Olympic and World champions then we will change our coaching style. Muhammad Ali once said: “I hated every minute of training, but I said, don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”

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7. What will you take away from this experience and from listening to her interview?

From the bottom of our hearts we still love her. Every time she came in the gym McKayla, Galina and I said, “Hi, I love you” and before she left we all said “I love you,” this was our relationship with McKayla Maroney. We give all our hearts for all our young athletes that come to AOGC that want to achieve their goals. We have many letters from athletes throughout the years that still write us, who want to come visit, who are grateful for all our hard work.

8. Is there anything you want to add or let people know?

Don’t forget who gave their time, heart and soul to help you get to the top.

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D
D
4 years ago

To sum it up… Doesn’t matter what we do, as long as you won something, then everything else, even if wrong, doesn’t matter.

Kay
Kay
4 years ago

Hmm.. I understand their disappointment but she did day she owed everything she achieved in the sport to them, she just didn\’t love their process post Olympics mostly because of how it negatively affected her, which is understandable.

Lil
Lil
4 years ago

Well making claims when video proves otherwise makes you look like a lying, cant giant errrr…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-dh2RoDYuU
McKayla was a typical junior, potential – but can\’t put it all together in one comp. Her foundation was very good, for which to build on.

JR Jaquay
4 years ago

I\’m on the fence about this one. As a gymnastics coach I feel like I can see truth to both sides of the story. Do I think these coaches absolutely ignored Maroney\’s thoughts on her health; no. I believe things can get skewed worse or even better after the fact. I\’m sure those coaches were super hard on her and if she wasn\’t getting the results from them she would have left for sure to go somewhere she would get results. I\’m not justifying the coaches actions if these claims are true. I will say that I have had athletes who are perpetually complaining about something all the time and after there is no injury found time and time again you get to the point where you just accept that those certain athletes are not as mentally tough as the others. Then when they finally do have something wrong with them you don\’t believe it, the parents don\’t believe it and finally when they are taken to the Dr there is something there and you feel like shit. But, its the crying wolf mentality. Other athletes never complain and when they do event he slightest you know something is definitely wrong. Maybe that was Maroney, who knows? We all make mistakes, but I do feel like these coaches cared very much for her and were doing everything they could to get her to the Olympics.

Jess
Jess
4 years ago

Think gymCastic could have asked more specific questions about Mckayla’s accusations.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
4 years ago

Inability to take even mild criticism is a sign of a cult mentality sometimes present in certain gyms and at times USGA. The gymnast themselves get criticism all the time for form, training mentality, lack of focus, choice of skills, weight, choice of gym, and decisions concerning their gymnastics career. Why is there a mentality in the gymnastics community that coaches are above criticism? At times criticism can be necessary and be an encouraging step towards change, which can lead to progress. Coaches should not be above criticism of their training methods. But they themselves should seek to improve as well as athlete health is a legitimate concern.
I am disappointed that there is an assumption that Maroney should not criticize her coaches because of the level she was able to reach. Just because someone is a professional gymnastics coach does not make them above the criticism that many other professionals in other industries face . Put it this way there are many people who face yearly reviews in the workforce outside of gymnastics. I think maybe Maroney\’s coaches need to put their big girl panties on.

It sounds to me like Mykayla Maroney had many positive things to say about her coaches. But she acknowledged that some of the training practices may have exasperated her injuries. As for the accusation that maybe she was whiny and cryed wolf to many times. This is why we have health insurance and medical professionals. Medical professionals are the only people who should be evaluating whether or not an athlete injury is legit. a coach should never attempt to play the role of doctor. Remember each gymnast career will eventually end but they must live with the same body for the rest of their lives. Let\’s encourage each gym to care for their kids so that they can be productive and healthy after they leave gymnastics.
One of the things I would love to see gymcastic do is a show on gyms that train elites . Talking specifically about both the positives and negative\’s of each gym and how it may have worked for some gymnast but not for others. But also talking about areas where certain Gyms need to improve.

TKL
TKL
4 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Thank you for offering your insight. You\’re exactly right, coaches are not above criticism—no matter how far the athletes they train go.

J
J
4 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Elizabeth,
It appears that you have never competed at an elite level in anything – music, sports, etc. You need to be pushed to be a champion. Sometimes you hate the pusher, but without him or her pushing you, mediocrity is where you will find your career when you look back. This has become an epidemic in American sports. Our athletes want to win without putting in the effort. That effort includes the test of their mental fortitude. If you can\’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. If you decide to stay, don\’t piss and moan when you get burned – especially if you have the hardware as evidence of those efforts. The end doesn\’t always justify the means, but pushing through physical injuries shows a mental strength. It\’d be a shame for someone to work for 4 years, get to the olympics, twist an ankle, then be terrified of what might happen if they continue to compete with the injury. Without the mental beatdown from coaches, the USA doesn\’t have Kerri Strugg, and the Magnificent 7 would just be the the team that \”almost won it\” in Atlanta.

Lauren H
Lauren H
4 years ago
Reply to  J

J,

First, The Magnificent 7 would have won gold without Kerri competing her second vault. Do the math. The USA won by over 8 tenths. Allowing Kerri to compete when she was obviously injured was in my eyes neglectful of the USA coaches.

Second, to think that it was better for Kerri to compete her second vault then to skip it and prevent further injury is horrible. She missed out on AA finals because she competed that vault. Even if her not competing that vault meant the US lost the gold, that doesn’t make her less of an athlete or mediocre.

I competed as a gymnast and a swimmer, so I understand being pushed is part of what makes you better, but that NEVER excuses abuse. A coach can push you without being abusive. A (good) coach should always look out for its athletes too. No medal is worth going through abuse or suffering a permanent injury. If you don’t believe me, look up Julissa Gomez’s story.

Bri
Bri
4 years ago

You don\’t have to suffer to be successful in life.
Life is designed so that every moment can be enjoyed.

AJ
AJ
4 years ago

This is from the girl who stood on the Olympic podium and because famous for being a sore loser. I think we can take what she says with a grain of salt.

Also, do people really think you can become Olympic Champion by being babied? At any time, she could have stopped and/or her parents could have stopped her.

I don’t think it helps anyone to play the blame game after the fact. If you’re uncomfortable or unhappy, quit.

Olympic sports are serious business.. And, it feels like there’s a double standard when it comes to women’s gymnastics because they’re “little girls.” Why should coaches expect less from them? They are world class athletes. And world class athletes are training to win. And training to win is hard work. Period.

amber woods
amber woods
4 years ago
Reply to  AJ

Lots of people reflect on their experiences after they are over. She was 18 months old when she started and now it\’s over. She\’s ALLOWED to tell her story, the good and the bad. She was so complimentary of her coaches technical training and hard work was NEVER the issue. Her negative statements had to do with the fact that no one was taking care of her physical or mental health and how that affected her. The fact that gymnasts are starving themselves and scared to eat in front of their coaches is a legitimate problem and I applaud her for stepping up and telling her truth. The best comment on this article was the person who said coaches give criticism all day long. How arrogant of them to think they are perfect and can\’t take any themselves.

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