Following four Olympic and three World Championship medals, the 20-year-old Shawn Johnson announced on Sunday that she is retiring from competitive gymnastics.
Johnson said recurring knee problems have made contending for a spot at the London Games this summer impossible.
“I still have the heart, drive, and desire to compete and help the USA at the London Olympics,” Johnson, who also won two senior U.S. all-around titles, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, it has become obvious that my left knee is not able to sustain the demands of gymnastics any longer. All I can do now is gracefully retire and thank everyone who has believed in me and my journey.”
Johnson gave thanks to Martha Karolyi, the women’s national team coordinator, her agent Sheryl Shade, her parents, Teri and Doug Johnson, her coaches, Liang and Li Chow, her sponsors, and her fans and friends.
“I am announcing this now so the focus for the next three weeks will be on the incredibly talented gymnasts who are trying to make our 2012 Olympic Team,” said Johnson. “I have had the honor to train and compete with them, and I am excited to join the gymnastics family and fans in cheering them on to victory. I will be there with every ounce of pride and energy to cheer on my girls and Team USA.”
With her outgoing personality and prowess in gymnastics, Johnson has won the hearts and minds of her coaches, sponsors, and fans. Liang Chow, who has coached Johnson since the beginning of her career in gymnastics 15 years ago, said Johnston has brought much “joy, grace, energy, and great success to the gymnastics world.”
“My wife, Li, and I have enjoyed the many years we have had working with her,” said Chow. “Shawn’s dedication to gymnastics and her work ethic make her a great example for future generations to follow.”
At age 6, Johnson was one of Liang Chow’s first students when he opened a gymnastics school in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Johnson said she is going to start college, work with philanthropic foundations, and continue to be involved in gymnastics.
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