Shawn Johnson Q&A: Olympic Memories, Gold Medal Perks & DWTS: All-Stars
First Published: August 2, 2012 3:17 PM EDT Credit: Getty Images
LONDON, England -- As a former Gold medalist, Shawn Johnson knows a thing or two about what it takes to be an Olympic champ.
Shawn is currently in London — as the special correspondent for Today.com --and has been catching all of the Summer Olympic excitement as Team USA takes on the world.
AccessHollywood.com caught up with the now-retired gymnast where she reflected on her time as an Olympian, the perks of retirement and looking ahead to competing on “Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars”!
Access: Looking back on your Olympic experience, what is the one moment that always stands out?
Shawn: “Facing that competition in Beijing, I gave everything I had and it was such an amazing experience winning a gold medal.”
Access: Is there one regret you have about your Olympic experience, whether related to the games or just your time in Beijing? Anything you wish you would’ve done differently?
Shawn: “Honestly, I don’t think I would. I think everything happens for a reason. I had the greatest Olympic experience of my life. I guess if I did anything different, I would’ve taken more pictures and taken more time to enjoy it because I feel like I was a little blind (to everything else going on).”
Access: What has been the best perk of being a gold medalist?
Shawn: “I think you’re finally able to have some fun and let loose, be a kid and do whatever you want. You have a platform and you have all these opportunities, so you just want to have fun with it and take advantage of all these opportunities. It was surreal for me. It was extremely chaotic and I don’t think I ever got to breathe, but I had a lot of fun going from show to show and having people be so interested in my career. I loved it.”
Access: We’ve heard that the Olympic village can get pretty crazy – what’s the craziest thing you saw [in Beijing]?
Shawn: “I was 16 and a part of the gymnastics team and we were basically locked in our rooms, so I didn’t get to see too much. I didn’t really see anything crazy.’’
Access: You announced your retirement in June – what is the best part of retirement?
Shawn: “Probably not hurting every single day I wake up. I’m more stress-free and not aching and having to go to some therapy. Plus there’s the freedom that I enjoy. “
Access: Is it weird at all to hear yourself say, ‘I’m retired’? You’re only 20!
Shawn: “I have friends who say, ‘You’re so lucky.’ I’m like, I’m lucky, but I am still looking to see what I want to do now that my gymnastics career is over. It’s surreal, but I’m getting used to it.’’
Access: Why did you want to do ‘Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars’? Who do you think will be your biggest competition? Who are you hoping for as a pro partner?
Shawn: “I retired, and it was kind of a tough decision because I had so much going on, but after thinking about it, it seemed to me, it could help me come back and have a challenge after not getting to finish out the competition at the end of my gymnastics career. They’re all all-stars so I’m extremely intimidated. Apolo Ohno should be really tough competition because he is such a good athlete. I would say (former dance partner) Mark Ballas would be good as a partner because we wouldn’t have to relearn anything and that awkwardness in the beginning wouldn’t be there.”
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