Mar 31, 2014, 2:42 PM EDT
Shawn Johnson has kept plenty busy since her four-medal performance at the 2008 Olympics.
The gymnast won “Dancing with the Stars” in 2009, made a run at the 2012 Olympics after tearing an ACL skiing and then retired two months before the London Games due to the knee injury.
Johnson went back on “Dancing with the Stars” for an all-star edition later in 2012 and recently started taking college classes.
OlympicTalk recently caught up with Johnson to look back on her career, discuss her future and analyze the current gymnastics scene:
OlympicTalk: You’re in college now, what are you studying?
Johnson: I’m a freshman at Vanderbilt, studying sports psychology and dietetics. I want to turn it around in the sport. I want to give back to gymnastics.
OlympicTalk: What’s the classroom setting like?
Johnson: I haven’t really been in a classroom setting yet. I’m going to be a full-time student next fall. But I’ve done a lot of online.
OlympicTalk: Why Vanderbilt?
Johnson: I already live in Nashville, so it was already kind of a perfect fit. I lived in LA for a while. It’s a little bit too big of a city for me, seeing as I’m from Des Moines, Iowa. And then I found Nashville, was interested in Vanderbilt and moved there. My best friend lives there. It kind of all fell together.
OlympicTalk: What are your first memories of the 2008 Olympics?
Johnson: I would say the team competition was the epitome of the Olympics for me, being able to work together, compete together and earn a (silver) medal. It’s everything that I had dreamed of and worked for.
OlympicTalk: Would you change anything about your comeback in 2010 in hindsight?
Johnson: Not at all. It wasn’t exactly like I dreamed or planned because I wanted to be on that (Olympic) team, but I don’t think I would have come back if it weren’t for my knee injury. That was kind of the motivation behind it, and that ultimately is what ended my career. It was a great learning experience. I wouldn’t change it.
OlympicTalk: Which current gymnast do you like to watch?
Johnson: She’s not a senior yet, but her name is Norah Flatley (14 years old, on the Junior National Team). She’s a Chow’s gymnast (training under Liang Chow, Johnson’s longtime coach in Iowa). She worked under me. She’s almost a mini-me. She’ll be in the 2016 Olympics if I’m putting my money on it.
OlympicTalk: No U.S. woman has made back-to-back Olympic teams since 2000. What do you attribute that to?
Johnson: Our difficulty level. I think our girls are so far ahead of other gymnasts and other countries. We choose such difficulty that we almost burn our girls out too early. It works for us. We bring the medals back and everything, but I think it’s a lifestyle. We have the freedom to kind of move into other things, where other countries make a living off of it.
OlympicTalk: Can you compare/contrast your 2008 Olympic Team to the 2012 Fierce Five?
Johnson: No comparison to 2012, but I think the 2008 team was really great because we had our team leader, Alicia Sacramone. She was like the mom. She kept us all grounded and sane and not distracted. We had strengths from every other girl. Sam Peszek was awesome. She was good on every event. Bridget Sloan, Chellsie Memmel, Nastia Liukin, obviously, she won everything. We had a really good team bond, and we were a family. So, it worked well.
OlympicTalk: Do you still talk to Liukin?
Johnson: We don’t talk very much. She is a busy, busy girl. As am I. All of our lives have gone different directions, but we keep in touch every once in a while. Alicia just got married, so we were all celebrating that. I guess we’re growing up a little bit.
OlympicTalk: You’ve said you want to run a marathon?
Johnson: I’m still recovering from injuries from my sport, so I’ve been out of commission for the last year, not able to work out or do anything. My goals are definitely physical, trying to get back in shape and back into everything. So a marathon would be amazing. I have a crazy idea for an Ironman one day.
OlympicTalk: Why an Ironman?
Johnson: Just because it’s so extreme. The Olympics are extreme, so why not an Ironman? I hate running in general, I feel like I would drown, and I don’t really own a bike. So it doesn’t make sense, but I’ll accomplish it someday. I’m a competitor.
OlympicTalk: So you’re still dealing with injuries?
Johnson: Some nagging stuff. I also love to work out, so I never stop. My doctor finally made me stop for a year. I’m finally getting back to it.
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The 2000 Olympic champion continues to struggle with weight loss.
May 22, 2015, 10:40 AM EDT
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May 22, 2015, 9:57 AM EDT
“We want to rebuild the arena of the Colosseum so that the athletes can be lifted in like the gladiators in the Roman times.”
May 22, 2015, 9:25 AM EDT
The U.S. won “Beat the Streets” 9-4.
May 21, 2015, 11:49 AM EDT
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May 21, 2015, 9:18 AM EDT
Russia ceded its place as top challenger to the U.S. in recent Olympics.
May 20, 2015, 8:10 PM EDT
They were a gift from a previous Olympic host city.
May 20, 2015, 3:07 PM EDT
Usain Bolt dropped on the list and is no longer the top track and field athlete.
May 20, 2015, 1:38 PM EDT
Markus Rehm jumped another personal best on Saturday, moving up the list of top active jumpers.
May 20, 2015, 1:09 PM EDT
Letterman had a special correspondent at the 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympics.
May 20, 2015, 12:53 PM EDT
The Olympic silver medalist has been off the elite competition radar for nearly two years.
May 20, 2015, 11:56 AM EDT
The World champion explained the origin of her design.
May 20, 2015, 9:15 AM EDT
Gatlin’s agent also called the sprinter “misunderstood.”
May 20, 2015, 8:21 AM EDT
A stopwatch used to time Bannister’s feat was also recently auctioned.
May 19, 2015, 12:41 PM EDT
Seebohm took silver behind Franklin in 2012 and 2013 but was faster last year.
May 19, 2015, 7:47 AM EDT
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May 18, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT
The 22-time Olympic medalist finished first or second in zero events at a meet for the first time since the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
May 18, 2015, 10:45 AM EDT
David Boudia leads the team, while a four-time Olympian just missed.
May 18, 2015, 7:18 AM EDT
The three-time World champion is training again but isn’t definite on competing.
May 17, 2015, 11:30 PM EDT
Canada is grouped with South Korea in what could be a rout in preliminary play.
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