Shawn Johnson, 20, announced on Sunday that she was retiring from the sport of gymnastics.
The announcement, while not totally unexpected, was a somber reminder of just how short the careers of young superstar Olympians tends to be. Johnson suffered from a chronic knee injury and later a torn ACL – neither of which she was really able to recover from.
“I feel kind of numb and it sucks, but things happen for a reason and my body came to a point where I just couldn’t take it anymore,” Johnson told NBCOlympics.com. “There is a long haul ahead to the Olympics and it would be unrealistic to put my body through that. It was better to gracefully retire now and just give my position up.
“My knee just can’t take it anymore. It has been a constant battle since I came back and recently got worse with the higher numbers. I pushed it to a point and tried to get the finish line and I came up a little short. I can’t do it anymore. It was a hard moment. It was hard to sit here and be told your life in gymnastics is over.”
Johnson won four medals in the Beijing Olympics at age 16. Shortly thereafter, she participated in a season of ABC’s hit show, Dancing With The Stars – which in turn propelled her to national, mainstream prominence.
What’s next for the superstar? That’s something even Johnson isn’t sure about yet. But she's definitely not developing a panic disorder over what the future holds.
"I'm scared to death to know what the future holds because it's kind of a blinded road I've never thought about, but I'm excited as well," she said. "I'm ready to start the journey."