Shawn Johnson announces retirement
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa, June 3, 2012 – Shawn Johnson of West Des Moines, Iowa, who has four Olympic and three World career medals, today announced her retirement from competitive gymnastics. Her stellar career includes three World gold medals and one gold and three silver Olympic medals, and her gymnastics prowess and outgoing personality made her a fan favorite. Johnson, who has been on the comeback trail since 2011, was forced to cut her efforts short to make her second Olympic team short due to recurring knee problems.
“I still have the heart, drive, and desire to compete and help the USA at the London Olympics,” said Johnson, who also won two senior U.S. all-around titles. “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.
“Being given the opportunity again by Martha Karolyi and USA Gymnastics to represent the USA has been the greatest honor of this comeback,” said Johnson. “Thanks to all of my sponsors for allowing me to represent them, and their support has been a dream come true. Also, my agent, Sheryl (Shade), has truly given me the chance to pursue my biggest dream while sharing my story with the world. And to my fans and friends, I will be forever grateful. To my parents, Teri and Doug, I thank you for the love you have given me. To my coaches, Liang and Li Qiao (Chow), thank you for nurturing me throughout my life in the sport of gymnastics and the lessons of sportsmanship.
“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.”
“Shawn is one of our country’s most popular gymnasts, and she has been an integral part of the USA’s success,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “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, including the coveted all-around title, and three Olympic medals. We wish Shawn the best of success as she begins her next adventure and future involvement in the sport.”
“Shawn has been an outstanding representative of USA Gymnastics throughout her career,” said Peter Vidmar, chairman of the Board for USA Gymnastics and 1984 Olympic gold medalist. “I have tremendous respect for Shawn’s dedication and hard work during her return to gymnastics for a run at her second Olympics. And while we celebrate her competitive achievements, we also appreciate everything she has done as a role model and ambassador for our sport. We look forward to having her continue to be a part of the gymnastics movement while she pursues the next chapter of her remarkable career.”
“Shawn has brought much joy, grace, energy and great success to the gymnastics world,” said Liang Chow, who has coached Johnson since she began in gymnastics. “My wife, Li, and I have enjoyed the many years we have had working with her. Shawn’s dedication to gymnastics and her work ethic make her a great example for future generations to follow. Although her gymnastics career is over and we will miss her, we believe an even brighter future is waiting for her.”
“Shawn will always hold a special place in gymnastics and my heart,” said Martha Karolyi, the women’s national team coordinator. “She always showed the joy of doing gymnastics. Shawn was an excellent student in training and a fierce competitor in the arena. I will miss her, but I am confident that she will be very successful in any endeavor that she decides to pursue.”
Johnson is considering her plans for the future that include college, volunteer work and continuing to be involved in gymnastics. Johnson will make the trip to London this summer on behalf of some sponsors and have the opportunity to cheer for the USA.
“Looking to the future, I have many goals and plans I want to pursue,” said Johnson. “I am going to college, want to work with philanthropic foundations, and hope to inspire new generations to follow their own dreams and pursue their passions. I also will continue to be involved in the growth of gymnastics because it has been an important part of my life for 15 years. I am very excited about starting the next part of my journey.”
“We are supportive of Shawn’s decision to retire from competitive gymnastics,” said David Palmer, head of Global Sports Marketing, Procter & Gamble. “She has been a great ambassador for the sport of gymnastics, as well as our Bounty brand and P&G. We look forward to our continued partnership with Shawn and her mother Teri.”
“Coca-Cola has partnered with Shawn since 2007, and we’re proud to stand behind her as this part of her career closes and a new phase begins,” said Katie Bayne, president and general manager, sparkling beverages, Coca-Cola North America. “Shawn is a shining example of the healthy, active lifestyle that is so important to The Coca-Cola Company, and the ideals and values she represents as an Olympic champion will always be an inspiration. While she will not compete in the London 2012 Olympic Games, she will be there, in London, with Coca-Cola, enthusiastically supporting our Coca-Cola 8-Pack of Athletes, the U.S. Gymnastics Team, and Team USA.”
“We have valued our partnership with Shawn prior to the Beijing Olympics as well as when she was on her journey to attempt to make the team for London 2012,” said Donna Tweeten, vice president, brand image, Hy-Vee, Inc. “Through all of those years, Shawn has been a wonderful ambassador for Hy-Vee and the State of Iowa and has served as a significant role model for young people in general – especially young girls and young women. We are proud to have our brand associated with Shawn. We consider her to be a part of the Hy-Vee family and look forward to supporting her and her future goals, dreams and endeavors.”
Johnson won her first U.S. elite title as a junior at the 2006 Visa Championships, nearly sweeping the gold medals when she finished first in the all-around, vault, balance beam and floor exercise. As she received her all-around award, the crowd inside the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn., came to its feet acknowledging the incredible display from the 14-year-old.
In 2007, Johnson moved into the international spotlight when she won the all-around title at the American Cup in her senior competitive debut. Following that success, Johnson was a member of the 2007 Pan American Games team in Rio de Janeiro, where she collected three gold medals (team, all-around, floor).
Then, at the 2007 Visa Championships, Johnson continued her winning ways, taking home the all-around, balance beam and floor exercise titles. Her performance earned her a berth to the 2007 World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.
As part of the ‘Super Seven,’ Johnson helped Team USA claim its first-ever World team gold medal on foreign soil. Days later, Johnson became just the fourth U.S. woman to win the World all-around gold medal. On the final day of the World Championships, Johnson added the floor exercise gold medal to her impressive haul, setting her up as a multiple medal favorite for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
In the lead up to the Beijing Olympics, Johnson won her second senior U.S. all-around title at the 2008 Visa Championships in Boston and was the all-around champion at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Gymnastics in Philadelphia, assuring herself a spot on the 2008 Olympic team.
Competing on all four events in the team final in Beijing, Johnson helped the American squad to a team silver medal. Johnson grabbed the silver medal in the all-around competition, making history as part of the only American duo to ever finish first and second in the all-around at the Olympics with teammate Nastia Liukin. During the event finals, Johnson added a silver medal on the floor exercise. On the final day of artistic gymnastics in Beijing, Johnson won the balance beam gold medal, just the second U.S. woman to do so along with Shannon Miller in 1996.
After Beijing, Johnson took a hiatus from competitive gymnastics. In 2009, she appeared on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” and won the title; received the 79th AAU James E. Sullivan Award; and won the ESPY for Best U.S. Female Olympian.
Two years later, Johnson returned to gymnastics and to the Xcel Energy Center. Her performance at the 2011 Visa Championships in Saint Paul earned her a spot at the selection camp, and she was named to the 2011 Pan American Games team. Competing in Guadalajara, Mexico, Johnson helped Team USA to the team gold medal and claimed the silver medal in the uneven bars final.