Gymnast Shawn Johnson ends Olympic bid: I feel 'numb'

Ronald Martinez / Getty Images file

Shawn Johnson, competing last year, has announced her retirement.

Shawn Johnson will not compete at this summer’s Olympic Games. The 2008 all-around silver medalist announced Sunday that her competitive career has come to an end.

“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.”

The 20-year-old’s comeback attempt was hampered from day one by a chronic knee injury. Johnson tore her ACL in a skiing accident in January 2010 and despite multiple surgeries and a stint at the Michael Johnson Performance Center earlier this year, the knee would not hold up.

“My knee just can’t take it anymore,” Johnson added. “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.”


The announcement comes just days before the start of the VISA National Championships – the first step in Olympic qualifying. The five-woman London team will be named at the Olympic Trials on July 1.

After a three-year absence, Johnson returned to gymnastics last year in hopes of making a second Olympic Team. Her performances at the 2011 VISA Championships earned her a spot on the Pan American Games team, but not on last year's gold medal-winning World Team.

Speculation began in early 2012 that Johnson’s comeback was in danger. She missed team training camps, in early May her coach Liang Chow told the press that he wasn’t sure she would be ready for Nationals, and Johnson sat out last month’s U.S. Classic tune-up meet.

So what is next for the four-time Olympic medalist (gold on balance beam) and 2007 world all-around champion? Johnson told us she will attend the VISA Championships, Olympic Trials, and Olympic Games as a spectator.

“Being in London is a must. It’s not going to be easy to be there and live through it all, but I owe it to the girls to be there. We’re a family and I need to be there for them.”

More on NBCOlympics.com:
Our favorite Shawn Johnson moment
Will a 2008 Olympian compete in London?
Best Of Beijing in images: Shawn Johnson
Two favorite stories from Shawn Johnson's new book
Video: Johnson relives her golden beam routine

Watch more TODAY videos of Shawn: 
Johnson, Liukin 'proud of each other' for medals
Johnson's parents, coach reflect on her win
Shawn Johnson takes a stand against cancer 

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Discuss this post

You have nothing to be ashamed of. Congratulations on a stellar career.

  • 3 votes
Reply#1 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 11:11 AM EDT

Every athlete eventually reaches a point where they can no longer compete at the high level they once did. Good for you in recognizing it before damaging your health irreparably. Congrats on all your accomplishments, best wishes for the next stage of your life. You will continue to make an impact no matter in what arena ...

    Reply#2 - Mon Jun 4, 2012 11:28 PM EDT

    It's very humble of her to step down and make room for another athlete. Her parents have much to be proud of.

      Reply#3 - Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:34 PM EDT

      Shawn You are a beautiful young women and rather than bust yourself up trying for the team, you made the right choice. I will say, you and Nastia where my favorites. Loved you on DWTS :o) I have a daughter in gymnastics now A comp team in Fargo ND. I keep an eye on her for any slight injury and pull her to heal up. However, I do not force her to do this, It's her choice. If she saw me posting this, she would kill me when I say -- you are her favorite :o) You will be missed!! It's your decision to stop and anyone that doesn't respect that has a problem signed - A Fan

      • 1 vote
      Reply#4 - Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:14 PM EDT

      OK, her career is over. BUT, there's always Dancing With The Stars. Wait a minute, she's won that already.

        Reply#5 - Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:22 PM EDT

        Your career has been a terrific ride and I enjoyed your triumphs!! Congratulations on your retirement! Now the fun can really begin!!

          Reply#6 - Sat Jul 14, 2012 9:01 PM EDT
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