Fact file: Shawn Johnson
Sport: Artistic gymnastics
Born: 19 January 1992
Height: 4’ 9”
Nickname: ‘Peanut’, ‘Bubbly’
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: