Fact file: Shawn Johnson
Sport: Artistic gymnastics
Born: 19 January 1992
Height: 4’ 9”
Nickname: ‘Peanut’, ‘Bubbly’
Gold medal in Beijing Olympics:
Shawn Johnson is young, beautiful, rich and famous. She has an Olympic gold. She’s been on television. She advertises video gymnastics games and she is sponsored by Nike. Shawn Johnson has everything a girl could want. Or has she?
Shawn Johnson was born a gymnast. As soon as she could walk she began climbing the furniture and jumping off tables. She started gymnastics class when she was three and she won the World all-round title when she was fifteen. (An all-around gymnast competes in every event, not just one.)
Everybody was sure she would win the Olympic all-around title at Beijing a year later, but she didn’t. She only won Gold for the Balance Beam. It was her team mate, Nastia Liokin, who won the all-around title.
However, when Shawn got back to America she was famous. You could see her face on chat shows, in advertisements, on bottles of Coca-Cola and on cereal packets. She stopped training and put on weight. In January 2010, she went skiing and hurt her knee. It was a bad accident but it helped her make an important decision. She decided to give up her ‘Hollywood lifestyle’. She wanted to get back to the gym, she wanted to compete in the 2012 Olympics and she wanted to get the all-round title she’d missed in 2008.
It was a brave decision. She had been away from the sport for two years, she had a knee injury and she would be four years older at the time of the Games. She knew it would be difficult:
‘A comeback in gymnastics is almost impossible in itself. Add to it an injury, why would you even try?’
Shawn got back to full training in August 2010, but her knee was not strong enough. In September 2011 the team was chosen for the World Championships, but Shawn was not in the team.
She now has many months of hard training ahead. She does not know whether she will be chosen for the Olympic team or left behind.
‘The hardest thing is not knowing if I’m going to make it.’
Will she be chosen for the team? Will she get her all-around title? Who knows, but if there were medals for bravery, Shawn Johnson would certainly get her Gold!