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.
Aug 29, 2015, 11:35 AM EDT
Jamaica swept the relays.
Aug 29, 2015, 11:23 AM EDT
Eaton was competing in his first decathlon in more than two years and wore a cooling hood.
Aug 28, 2015, 1:05 PM EDT
“That feeling of wanting to crawl out of your skin.”
Aug 28, 2015, 12:42 PM EDT
“No chance for rematch,” a meet director said.
Aug 28, 2015, 11:13 AM EDT
Davis, the second youngest U.S. Olympic basketball player ever in 2012, played the fewest minutes for Team USA at the London Games.
Aug 28, 2015, 11:11 AM EDT
Jenner explains why the medal isn’t displayed.
Aug 28, 2015, 10:39 AM EDT
Ashton Eaton clocks a decathlon world record. The third fastest woman ever in the 200m. The U.S. was shut out of the medals in its best event.
Aug 28, 2015, 7:25 AM EDT
A CCTV cameraman presented Bolt with a red bracelet.
Aug 27, 2015, 12:22 PM EDT
Bolt previously said he would retire after the 2017 World Championships.
Aug 27, 2015, 11:53 AM EDT
“The rumor I’m trying to start right now is that Justin Gatlin paid him off.”
Aug 27, 2015, 11:52 AM EDT
Also, Allyson Felix broke a U.S. record for World Championships medals.
Aug 27, 2015, 11:51 AM EDT
Felix could try to race two individual events at the Rio Olympics.
Aug 27, 2015, 7:48 AM EDT
Justin Gatlin got the best of Usain Bolt in their only race before Gatlin’s doping ban.
Aug 27, 2015, 6:51 AM EDT
Pistorius could be out of prison in weeks.
Aug 26, 2015, 8:39 PM EDT
The first female Olympic ski jumper reinjured her right knee.
Aug 26, 2015, 2:14 PM EDT
Wylie went into sudden cardiac arrest on April 21 and was in a medically induced coma for two days.
Aug 26, 2015, 1:45 PM EDT
The Opening Ceremony conflicts with a PGA Tour event.
Aug 26, 2015, 11:04 AM EDT
A 10-year-old girl competed in Kazan earlier this month.
Aug 26, 2015, 10:28 AM EDT
Dodger Stadium and The Forum are potential venues.
Aug 26, 2015, 10:19 AM EDT
A two-time Olympic champion in the 200m moved into another runner’s lane during a semifinal.
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