Gymnast McKayla Maroney on Her Latest Career Move: 'I Was Definitely a Little Intimidated!'

McKayla Maroney awards the coveted perfect ten
McKayla Maroney awards the coveted perfect ten


Gymnast McKayla Maroney is hyped for the Summer Games ... but not quite in the way you might think.

The gold medal-winner is headed to Discovery+ on Saturday, July 31, to judge Puppy Bowl Presents: The Summer Games, a competition between five incredible dog and trainer pairs with a $5,000 prize for the winner's animal charity of choice.

Maroney is joined at the judges' table by dog trainers Travis Borsen and Sara Carson (plus host Kym Whitley), and tells PEOPLE she was "a little intimidated at first" when getting ready for the Games.

"I've never been successful at training my own Aussiedoodle Prince at anything — my little sister Tarynn is the one who's taught my dog all the tricks he knows," the 25-year-old shares. "But thankfully Sara and Travis were so kind and helpful, which made me feel more comfortable."

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"I understood the main goal, and just went with my intuition," she adds. "I definitely felt the same pressure gymnastics judges probably feel to pick the best winner."

The competitors include border collie Ricky Bobby and trainer Suzanne Knox, Bernedoodle Yama and trainer Steve Jordan, Australian shepherd Spyder and trainer Mikayla Morris, black Lab Bullwinkle and trainer Adam Jorgenson and Australian shepherd HiYah! and trainer Kelly Culbert.

"I was overall just mesmerized by the cuteness and talent of all the dogs — I loved scoring their choreographed routines so much," Maroney says. "But I think my favorite part was the last round, when the dogs started playing actual tennis with their owner. That was incredible."

Also incredible: the gymnasts of Team USA's current Olympic team, including 18-year-old Suni Lee, who won gold on July 29 in the women's individual all-around. Maroney says she's been up "watching all their competitions live from my laptop at 3 a.m., cheering them on, and praying for them throughout the day."

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"It's a hard sport," she adds, "and I just want them all to have an amazing experience."

But for now, she's happy to be on the other side of judging.

"I had so much fun working with the cast and crew of Summer Games," she says. "I'm super excited for it to come out, and I just hope everyone enjoys it!"