3 Reasons Shawn Johnson’s Retirement is No Surprise

It seems like just yesterday we were watching the young, bubbly Johnson triumph on the US Olympic Gymnastics Team while charming the hearts of American fans.

Sunday, after months of training, Shawn Johnson announced her retirement from gymnastics.


Shawn Johnson (Image credit: derivative work: Calebrw (talk) via Wikimedia Commons)


Between working with new sponsors and winning the Mirror Ball on Dancing With The Stars, Miss Johnson kept herself quite busy since her star turn in Bejing four years ago.

Then in 2011, she decided she wanted to dominate the Olympic games in 2012. So she began her comeback. She joined the US Women’s Gymnastics Team for the 2011 Pan American Games.

But Sunday, just a couple of weeks before the Olympic trials, Johnson made one of the most difficult decisions in her life to date.

My Facebook Newsfeed was full of friends posting their disbelief and sadness over her “dusting off the chalk.” As a former gymnast, this news came as no shock to me. Let me explain why.

Reason #1: Age

Shawn Johnson was no doubt one of the most talented gymnasts in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, winning three silver medals and one gold medal. At age 16, she was in the prime of her career with strength and maturity in her muscles to power her moves but the youthfulness in her body to keep her healthy.

In 2012, Johnson has matured into a charismatic 20-year old woman. Olympic gymnasts are rarely mature women, even if that woman isn’t old enough to legally drink. The last gymnast who attempted a comeback was Shannon Miller, 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist. The “Magnificent Seven” gymnast attempted to train for the Sydney Olympics in 2004.

The problem with age is your body changes. It outgrows the small, petite figure that is crucial in competitive gymnastics. The natural process for age is to allow the body to develop.

Johnson, while she didn’t wait as long for a comeback as Miller did, she has surely gone through some sort of physical growth and maturity. All gymnasts do when they take an extended break from training.

Reason #2: Competition

Many young girls train for years and compete for months to win their shot to the Olympics. Johnson’s competition has only grown since she performed in Beijing. Girls who once idolized Johnson and her talent are now training to compete for a spot on the same team.

One injury and you fall a step behind the competition. One more birthday means one more girl becomes your competition as you age further from your prime. Gymnastics teams are not stocked full of teammates like football. A few of the most talented individuals will have their chance at fame and glory. There is always a replacement who is willing to fill the spot whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Sports journalist Joan Ryan wrote the nonfiction book Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters that portrayed the level of competition in each sport and how age and injuries could leave a gymnast far behind. While the book brought on criticism for being one-sided, it brought forth a new perspective of the sport to fans.

Reason #3: Injury

This was the most obvious reason for Johnson’s retirement.

In January of 2010, Johnson suffered a knee injury in a skiing accident. This is when I knew a comeback for Johnson was not likely to happen. She tore her ACL, MCL, meniscus, and hamstring.

Surgery and training couldn’t bring her back to full strength, which was necessary for her to be considered a candidate for the 2012 Olympic Team. Her knee continued to pull her back and kept her focus away from moving forward and improving her routines.

Any injury that needs reconstructive surgery is a gymnasts nightmare, and when that injury is your ‘powerhouse’ for the most difficult moves in your routine, your career is on the line. It is very rare that a gymnast can fight through such a severe injury, even when she’s had time to heal.

This is why Kerri Strug’s second attempt at vault in the 1996 Olympics is so impressive. After her first vault went a awry and caused her to tear two ligaments in her ankle, she performed her second attempt that won her the gold medal in that event.

Shawn Johnson has many fans who will miss watching her perform at the Summer Olympics. I wish her the best in her future endeavors, and I look forward to watching the gymnasts that will drive America at the 2012 Olympics in London.


About Amanda Lawson

A Wisconsinite stuck in Iowa, Amanda began her journey as a new baseball and Twins fan by sharing her experience on Midwest Sports Fans with the Beginning Baseball column. You can follow her on Twitter @AmandaRLawson to stay up-to-date on the Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin Badgers, and other sports information. Besides her work on MSF, Amanda also contributes her Packer knowledge at PocketDoppler and co-hosts every Thursday night on CheeseheadRadio.


  1. Dang, did not know she totalled her knee skiing – that would be it for her career…

  2. Shannon miller wasn’t the last comeback from the 96 team. Dawes made it 96, 2000, & 2004. Dom. M. tried for 2000 as well

  3. [url=http://buy-neurontin.date/]buy neurontin[/url] [url=http://buy-albendazole.red/]where can i buy albendazole[/url] [url=http://robaxinonline.webcam/]robaxin[/url] [url=http://buyadvair.kim/]buy advair[/url] [url=http://buypamelor.trade/]buy pamelor[/url] [url=http://buy-alli.faith/]alli[/url]

  4. I am really inspired along with your writing talents as neatly as with the layout to your weblog.
    Is this a paid topic or did you modify it yourself?

    Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it’s uncommon to
    look a nice blog like this one nowadays..

  5. Definitely believe that which you said. Your favorite
    justification appeared to be on the net the easiest thing to be aware
    of. I say to you, I certainly get irked while people think about
    worries that they plainly don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side-effects ,
    people can take a signal. Will probably
    be back to get more. Thanks

  6. Great blog! Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring writers?

    I’m hoping to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option?
    There are so many options out there that I’m totally confused ..
    Any ideas? Appreciate it!

  7. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good.
    I don’t know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already ;) Cheers!

  8. Thank you for every other magnificent post. Where else may
    just anyone get that type of info in such an ideal way of writing?
    I’ve a presentation next week, and I’m at the look for such information.

  9. Really when someone doesn’t be aware of then its up to other
    visitors that they will help, so here it takes place.

  10. It’s amazing designed for me to have a web page, which is valuable for my know-how.
    thanks admin

  11. Everything is very open with a clear clarification of the
    challenges. It was definitely informative. Your website is very useful.
    Thank you for sharing!

  12. Peculiar article, just what I needed.

  13. I had fun reading this post. I want to see more on this subject.. Gives Thanks for writing this nice article.. Anyway, I’m going to subscribe to your rss and I wish you write great articles again soon.

  14. What’s up to every body, it’s my first pay a quick visit of this weblog;
    this blog contains remarkable and actually excellent material in support
    of visitors.

  15. Hi, I read your blog on a regular basis. Your humoristic style is witty, keep up the good work!

  16. Good way of telling, and good paragraph to take facts
    about my presentation focus, which i am going to convey in institution of higher education.

  17. Amazing blog! Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring writers?

    I’m hoping to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress
    or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m totally confused ..
    Any tips? Appreciate it!

  18. Heya i’m for the first time here. I came across this board and I in finding It really helpful & it helped me out much.
    I am hoping to present something back and help others like
    you helped me.

  19. Very good blog you have here but I was wondering if you knew
    of any message boards that cover the same topics talked about in this article?
    I’d really love to be a part of community where I can get
    feedback from other knowledgeable people that share the same
    interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.


  20. Right now it sounds like BlogEngine is the preferred blogging platform out
    there right now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you’re using on your blog?

  21. Hello there, just became aware of your blog through Google,
    and found that it’s really informative. I’m going to watch out for brussels.
    I’ll be grateful if you continue this in future.
    Lots of people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  22. My family every time say that I am wasting my time here
    at web, except I know I am getting experience all
    the time by reading such pleasant articles or reviews.

  23. Yes! Finally something about online home business.

  24. Hello, this weekend is nice designed for me, since this occasion i am reading this wonderful informative piece
    of writing here at my house.

  25. WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by searching for ig

Speak Your Mind