Shawn Johnson Announces Retirement

This afternoon one of the top American gymnasts announced her retirement. At 20 years old, Shawn Johnson has been battling knee injuries and has feared that she was putting her long-term health at risk by continuing with her attempts to make a second Olympic team. Johnson was a member of the silver medalist United States gymnastics team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and individually she won the silver medal in the all-around competition and the silver in the floor exercise, while also taking home the gold medal on the balance beam at those Olympic Games. Unfortunately she will not be participating at the London 2012 Olympics that begin next month.

In a statement made the Associated Press today, Johnson said “It just little by little gets worse and worse. My body is to the point where I need time to rest and retire so I can be healthy for the rest of my life. It’s hard to wrap my mind around. Gymnastics has been my entire life, and now it’s no more”. Anyone who has ever enjoyed participating in athletics knows how difficult it is to realize that you will never compete on that same level again, and today Shawn Johnson announced that she has reached that point. You have to feel for her, it’s not easy to admit that to yourself let alone the rest of the country, and Shawn Johnson will be remembered for her accomplishments in the gym, for raising awareness about the sport of gymnastics, and for helping the United States show the world that we have the best gymnasts in the world (I still have a hard time believing that the girls China used to win the gold medal were any older than 10 years old and thus ineligible).

Johnson parlayed her athletic achievements into celebrity status.

Of course Johnson will also be remembered for being a celebrity and I would expect that even without her competing in these Olympic Games she will remain someone that people look up to. After she won the four medals in Beijing she took the next two years off, won ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars” and used her bubbly personality and physical beauty to become a spokesperson for McDonald’s and many other corporate sponsorships. I fully expect her to continue to promote herself and the sport of gymnastics to help it become one of the more popular sports in this country.

Steve Perry, president of USA Gymnastics, has one quote that I think sums up everything nicely. He said “Shawn is one of the country’s most popular gymnasts, and she has been an integral part of the USA’s success…Her personality, smile and powerful gymnastics won both medals and fans. Shawn contributed to two of our country’s most successful teams in recent history – the 2007 World Championships team, which won the USA’s second World team title, and the 2008 Olympic silver-medal team. As an individual, she won two World gold medals. We wish Shawn the best of success as she begins her next adventure and future involvement in the sport”. I would like to second Mr. Perry’s remarks. Shawn, thank you for your contributions to USA Gymnastics.

I’d also like to share one of the funniest unintentional (and inappropriate) commercials that I have ever seen. It includes Shawn Johnson and men’s USA gymnast’s twins Paul and Morgan Hamm:

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