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McKayla Maroney determined for Rio 2016 despite knee surgery

Aug 2, 2014, 8:47 PM EDT

McKayla Maroney has a message for anybody who doesn’t think she’s determined to make the 2016 Olympics following knee surgery in March.

“For people who don’t think I’m, like, really serious about this, you’re wrong,” Maroney said in a USA Gymnastics interview at the Secret Classic in Hoffman Estates, Ill., on Saturday. “I want this so bad. I’m not just messing around, chilling, acting. I’ll do that later.”

Maroney, 18, isn’t ready to compete yet after undergoing knee surgery in March, 18 months after surgery to repair a fractured left tibia. She said the surgery, due to coming back too fast from the tibia operation, was optional, but she had to have it if she wanted to go to the Rio Olympics.

Maroney said she has been back training for the last two-plus months, doing uneven bars work but not vault nor “real gymnastics” yet. Maroney is the Olympic silver medalist and two-time World champion on vault and hasn’t competed since October.

Being at the Secret Classic and seeing her World Championships teammates, including getting a bear hug from Simone Biles, has fueled Maroney’s competitive fire.

“It kind of feels like this is where I’m meant to be at this very moment,” Maroney said. “So even right now it gets very emotional because I can’t compete.

“I’m more determined to make it to this Olympics than I ever have been before.”

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