Former U.S. Olympics gold medalist McKayla Maroney gave up her gymnast life to pursue music and acting.
Maroney, who was a star of the 2012 London Olympics, told Yahoo that fans are often upset to learn she’s left her Olympian lifestyle behind.
“My fans grew up knowing me as the girl who went to the Olympics, and obviously for me to be like, ‘Nope, that’s not what I’m doing anymore,’ I definitely understand,” she said. “I get that you guys are feeling upset with me getting older and growing up.”
Maroney, who was 16 years old when she competed, had serious injuries as a result of the Olympics. Doctors told her, after three major surgeries, she could no longer do competitive gymnastics, and may have such severe injuries she couldn't wear high-heeled shoes.
“Gymnastics was the first love of my life. It was like breaking up with a boyfriend in the end that I’ve been with since I was 2 years old. I did it until I was almost 19, so for me to let go of it, obviously my identity was totally caught up in gymnastics, and it was really hard for me to kind of let go,” she said. “But the cool thing about moving forward is now I’m getting into music and I’ve kind of fell in love with a new thing.”
Maroney said she realizes the bar is set high for her next career move.
The Olympics star became known as a meme champion during the 2012 games due to her “not impressed” look that quickly went viral -- but said that she’s happy that title has been seemingly passed on at the Rio Olympics to gold medalist swimmer Michael Phelps.
“Somebody tweeted like, ‘McKayla looks like somebody took your spot’ ... and I looked at his pictures and was like, ‘YES! Go Michael, take it away please!'” she told TMZ, The Huffington Post reported.