Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney has found herself in a new realm of stardom attained by only a few select persons. Her sudden fame has caused a great deal of concern for her family, who has hired bodyguards to protect the 16-year-old in the aftermath of the Games.
"It has been a bit frightening. We have had marriage proposals; my daughter is 16," her mother, Erin, Maroney told Mail Online. "We have hired specialist security guards to make sure McKayla is never on her own. We don't want another Shawn Johnson situation to happen."
Johnson was another Olympic gold medalist who was stalked by 34-year-old Robert O'Ryan. He was arrested after sneaking onto the CBS lot where Johnson was filming "Dancing With the Stars." Police found guns, duct tape, and love letters to Johnson, and officials believed he was planning to kidnap the gymnast.
O'Ryan was charged with felony stalking and two counts of carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle. That's the exact scenario the Maroney family is trying to avoid at all costs. According to Erin, the family has taken "all the right precautions."
Maroney became a viral sensation after a photograph of her apparently pouting after winning a silver medal began circulating. Internet memes immediately picked up the photo and put it with catchy phrases, creating even more of a sensation.
Some criticized the young girl for wearing her heart on her sleeve and showing her disappointment, but Maroney has played along with the joke and even took more photos of her famous pout.
"I was up and I heard the national anthem playing for a different country and in my head I was like, 'I wish that was my national anthem.' I did it for like two seconds, and that's what happened," she told ABC about the incident.
"We know there are some fanatical people out there," mom Erin explained. "We've had prom date requests, you name it. But McKayla handles it great. She just rolls her eyes at it. For now, she is just a 16-year-old girl. We've never made it anything more than that," she noted.