Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson announced her retirement from the sport, saying setbacks from a left knee injury made contending for a spot on the 2012 London Olympics team impossible.
I still have the heart, drive, and desire to compete and help the USA at the London Olympics, the 20-year-old gymnast -- who had been struggling to make a full recovery following a 2010 knee injury -- said in a statement on Sunday.
Unfortunately, it has become obvious that my left knee is not able to sustain the demands of gymnastics any longer, the statement continued. All I can do now is gracefully retire and thank everyone who has believed in me and my journey.
While the timing of the announcement might take attention away from the upcoming games, Johnson expressed that her intensions were to get the announcement out there as quick as possible so as to divert attention back to the athletes who will be competing.
I am announcing this now so the focus for the next three weeks will be on the incredibly talented gymnasts who are trying to make our 2012 Olympic Team, she said. I have had the honor to train and compete with them, and I am excited to join the gymnastics family and fans in cheering them on to victory. I will be there with every ounce of pride and energy to cheer on my girls and Team USA.
After the games, Johnson plans to go to college in the fall of 2013, according to the Associated Press.
I am going to college, want to work with philanthropic foundations, and hope to inspire new generations to follow their own dreams and pursue their passions, she said. I also will continue to be involved in the growth of gymnastics because it has been an important part of my life for 15 years. I am very excited about starting the next part of my journey.
Johnson won four Olympic medals and three World career medals. She also appeared on Dancing with the Stars in 2009, where she took home the mirrorball trophy.
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