U.S. Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney became an Internet sensation after her not impressed face went viral. And that face was photographed on the medal podium giving a brief look of disappointment after she won a silver medal in the vaults. But her real claim to fame is helping the women's gymnastics team win the gold at last summer's Olympic games.
Now Maroney is catapulting into a new field acting. She appears in the CW TV show called "Heart of Dixie" and working with 7-UP on a new line of sodas.
This morning on "Starting Point," Maroney talks with Soledad about her life after the Olympics, and her plan to return to recapture gold in 2016.
In the London Olympics this summer, Gabrielle Douglas made history by becoming the first American gymnast to win both a team and individual gold medal in the same Olympic Games. Douglas has now written a book about her incredible journey to the Olympic podium called "Grace, Gold & Glory."
Douglas tells Soledad O'Brien this morning on "Starting Point" that right before the start of the Olympic Games, she considered quitting gymnastics and working at Chick-fil-A because she was homesick for her family, but her brother convinced her to go. "We've always been two peas in a pod ever since we were little, so he just told me to keep going and push yourself," she says.
In the book, Douglas opens up about the struggles her family has faced, including being homeless. She attributes the source of her strength to her faith and her mother. "I think the thing that's gotten me through was my mom. She's a fighter, and she sacrificed pretty much everything for me to accomplish my dreams."
Cutting-edge techniques like the ones used in the movie “Avatar” are now being used to monitor and enhance the performance of professional athletes. The technology captures the athlete’s performance from a variety of angles in order to see their exact point of view and which techniques to improve on.
Olympian and 2012 100-meter butterfly gold medalist Dana Vollmer uses the movie magic technology which she says allows her to “see the flows of water and quality of movement” in her body. Vollmer says she has learned that swimming harder does not necessarily mean swimming faster. “It’s more about the rhythm and my relationship with the water,” Vollmer adds.
Chris Bregler is the CEO of Manhattan Mocap, the company that developed this new technology which has been used on the New York Yankees among other athletes. Bregler says an entirely new underwater system was developed for Vollmer using over 32 cameras suspended underwater to capture images of the swimmer’s movement.
“What this does is it gives us a chance to look at the underlying structures in her body that you can’t really pick up with the naked eye, and there are sensations here that you can tweak out of the water,” says her coach, Milton Nelms. “Then Dana can make the translation into the water.”
US Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones has faced a lot of difficulty this year, from being the subject of a scathing New York Times article to her disappointing fourth-place finish in the 100-meter hurdle during the 2012 Olympics. Jones however is no stranger to adversity. Growing up, her family was homeless and her father was in and out of jail.
Today on “Starting Point,” Jones discusses how her childhood experiences encouraged her to start a foundation that helps those struggling with poverty. "Hurdles for Hope" is the signature program under The Lolo Jones Foundation that seeks to aid families with incarcerated loved ones.
The Olympian also shares her thoughts on the negative media attention and how it affected her in London. Jones says she became aware of the New York Times article entitled “For Lolo Jones, Everything Is Image” two days before she was set to compete due to the amount of attention the article was receiving via on social media. “I didn’t read the whole article,” Jones says. “People on twitter were obviously telling me there was this kind of crazy piece about me. I read it afterwards and I… I don’t know. It’s my job to focus negative and positive energy and just use it as momentum down the track and I guess its his job to just write articles that would stir the pot.”
For more information on Hurdles for Hope, visit HurdlesforHope.org.
America's new golden girls, the "Fierce Five," are back home after winning gold in women's gymnastics at the London Olympics.
It was the first time that team U.S.A. took gold in the event since the magnificent seven in the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber sit down with Soledad O'Brien to discuss their performances in the Games and to explain what they're looking forward to next.
People are calling the US women's gymnastics team America's new "Golden Girls." Though don't call them that to their faces – they want to be known as the "Fierce Five."
The gymnasts are back home after winning gold in women's gymnastics at the London Olympics. It was the first time Team USA took gold in the event since the Magnificent Seven in the 1996 Atlanta Games.
The "Fierce Five" were unstoppable, from their impressive vaults, incredible flips and powerful finish on the floor exercise.
Soledad talks with Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber about their amazing wins, and in this preview clip, Soledad asks them what it's like to be role models for the next generation of young gymnasts.
Watch the whole interview on "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien" tomorrow, Thursday Aug. 16th at 7am Eastern on CNN.
Olympic diver David Boudia was in the very last possible rank to move on into the semi-finals in the 2012 Olympics. He surprised the world when he came back to crush China and Great Britain and take gold in the finals. This was not the first time Boudia had to conquer something great in his life.
Boudia talks to Soledad O’Brien and the “Starting Point” team this morning about his fear of heights and how he overcame it to become an Olympic champion.
"I actually drew out the dives on pieces of paper and so when I went to practice I was able to already do the dives in my head a thousand times," Boudia says.
The Olympic gold medalist also discusses his experience at the 2012 Olympics and the advice he received from legendary diver Greg Louganis.
Team USA continues to raise the bar at the 2012 London Olympics after taking the lead with 90 medals total. The U.S. swim team combined has a total of 31 medals. Nathan Adrian and Ricky Berens are two of those swimmers that helped team USA dominate in the 2012 Olympics. 2-Time Gold Medalist Ricky Berens Berens says he's retiring.
On "Starting Point," the two swimmers talk about their journey and other Olympians participating in the 2012 Olympics.
Team USA has won 30 medals in swimming events, 16 of them gold. Three of those medals belong to USA swimming gold medalist Rebecca Soni.
Recently in the 2012 Olympics in London, Soni earned silver in the 100 meter breaststroke, and gold in the four by 100 individual medley relay. She also won the 200 meter breaststroke, breaking the world record and became the first woman to defend her title in that race.
On "Starting Point," Soni talks training and breaking records in swimming at the London Olympics.
The Olympics closing ceremony takes place this Sunday and so far the U.S. leads with 81 medals, while top competitor china slides to number two, with 77. One of those medals belongs to gymnast Jordyn Wieber who helped the U.S. women's gymnastics team win gold for the first time since the magnificent 7 in 1996.
Despite the victory, it's been a heart-breaking competition for Wieber who was edged out of the individual all-arounds by her own teammates and placed 7th in the floor exercise final after stepping out of bounds.
The 17-year-old who is about to start her senior year in high school will also be wearing a walking boot because of a suspected stress fracture in her right leg.
On "Starting Point," Wieber talks about her journey in the London Olympics and life after Team USA won gold.
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