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Shawn Johnson: Retirement has been blessing in disguise

Shawn Johnson won a gold medal and three silvers at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, but her inability to fully recover from a devastating knee injury forced her to retire earlier this month. Johnson spoke to LBS on Tuesday about her decision to retire, her experience at the 2008 Olympics, and what she plans on doing in the future.

Johnson spoke with LBS on behalf of Procter & Gamble, which is providing a $75,000 grant from the USOC’s P&G|Team USA Youth Sports Fund to benefit the USA Gymnastics Fitness Program. Procter & Gamble will also donate $1 to the USOC’s P&G|Team USA Youth Sports Fund for every follower the @thankyoumom Twitter account receives. Our interview is below.

LBS: What ultimately made you decide to retire earlier this month?

Johnson: It was kind of just sitting down and facing reality that we just ran out of time and my knee wasn’t allowing me to go any further. I knew the talent that was out there, and I knew that I wasn’t up to par. Giving my spot up to another girl that could potentially qualify at trials and make it was something I thought was best on both sides.

LBS: You said you ran out of time. Do you think things would have been different if there were more time to recover before the Olympics?

Johnson: Honestly, I don’t know. It’s hard to go through all the what-ifs, and I try not to do that because it can get you down on things. To say ‘What if I had another year?’ I don’t know what would happen. I don’t know if my knee would have healed better — I don’t know what would have happened. Everything happens for a reason, and not making the team and deciding to retire has been a blessing in disguise. It’s bittersweet, but things are working out for the best.

LBS: Has the time off been a break for you given how hard you’ve been working and training been all your life?

[Read more...]

Shawn Johnson was hurt by criticism about her weight

Shawn Johnson seems like she has everything going for her, but even someone considered “America’s most-liked sports figure” battles self-esteem and weight issues.

The Olympic gold medalist and winner of the popular “Dancing With the Stars” TV show admitted recently that she was hurt by criticism about her weight.

“At my heaviest all the tabloids said some pretty hurtful things,” Johnson said at an Olympics media summit on Monday.

“That whole process kind of broke me down and taught me something. People put too much emphasis on looks.”

The 4’9″ gymnast has lost 25 pounds since beginning her Olympics comeback (she’s hoping to participate in the London Games). She expressed concern over the message the media and other critics send.

“We’re taught at such a young age that you can always be better and that you’re never perfect and that you’re never good enough,” she said. “You find your worth in someone else and what they say just from having looked at you. It’s hard. I was at the Olympic Games winning medals and I still doubted my image. I doubted what I looked like. That’s sad. Girls should be taught different than that. I think everyone should be taught different than that.”

It really is unfair when Johnson faces such criticism. At 4’9″, she has a smaller frame and very little margin for error when it comes to her weight. People also need to remember that she was only 16 when she became famous at the Beijing Olympics. Bodies evolve as people get older; it’s no different for Johnson.

What’s also interesting is that she’s not the first Olympian who has voiced concerns of this nature recently.

Note: This post also appeared on Medal Detector
Photo Credit: Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

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