Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson says injuries don’t have to be the end
MILWAUKEE (WITI) — One moment, she was an Olympic gold medalist in gymnastics. The next, her career was taken away — but it didn’t take long for Shawn Johnson to spring back to life.
Point: showing how an injury can quickly change an athlete’s life. Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson had an accident that led to injury in January of 2010.
“I blew out my knee in 2009 skiing. It wasn’t even in gymnastics. When I tried to come back to my sport and the Olympics — it kept me from that. I’ve done three surgeries now and it never goes away. It’s extremely frustrating,” Shawn Johnson said.
That injury eventually led to Johnson’s retirement from gymnastics, and ended her comeback for the 2012 Olympic team.
Johnson recently visited Marquette University to share her story with college students. Wisconsin was the perfect place to visit, since sports fans here know a thing or two about injuries.
“As an athlete, to not decided on your own, to have your body decide for you is the most frustrating thing out there. Aaron Rodgers and everybody out there, I feel for him. You just want to be out there playing,” Johnson said.
Number 12 made a comeback — but unfortunately, Johnson did not.
“I think there’s something to be said for overcoming an injury and overcoming an obstacle. It can be related to anything. My injury took me away from my sport, but I went on to other things. I did Dancing With the Stars and continued to do athletic things. It might steer you in a different direction but it will never hold you back,” Johnson said.
A different direction doesn’t mean turning your back on your sport.
“I’m extremely involved in the gymnastics world. I host clinics and camps and coach. I go to all the major competitions and keep in touch with everybody. It’s what I lived and breathed my entire life. I think it will always run in my blood,” Johnson said.
While gymnastics will always be in her life, it’s more of a hobby now.
Johnson made a transition to college this year — taking online classes at Vanderbilt. She will be on campus full time in the fall.
“Transitioning from the Olympic athlete to just the every day person and looking for jobs and everything is crazy. I was also 16 when I retired from my sport. I was getting ready to graduate high school. It’s just a new chapter. It’s only the beginning. I’ve set the bar really high for myself which is intimidating,” Johnson said.
The bar is high for the gold medalist — but she’s a typical college student in one area.
“I’m not really sure. I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow let alone majoring in or getting a degree in. There’s a lot of things I want to take on and tackle and try but as far as knowing exactly what it is, like any college freshman, I have no idea,” Johnson said.
While she can’t decide her major right now, Johnson says she wants to do something in sports psychology.
It makes sense, since suffering an injury in an accident and recovering took a mental toll on her.
But whatever she does next, we know she’ll go for gold.