There are few Olympic sports viewers like more than women’s gymnastics. Over the past few decades, a dozen or so women have become household names. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it was Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin who won over American hearts. Each took home a slew of models, and after the games, Johnson went on to compete in and win Dancing With The Stars. The following year, she tore her ACL and decided she’d do whatever it took to get back in shape for the 2012 Olympics. Progress quickly followed. She won a spot on the team for the Pan American Games last year, but over the past few months, her injured knee has faltered under the increased strain.

With few option, Johnson officially decided to retire today. According to CBS News, the gymnast came to the realization that further competitions could destroy her knee forever, affecting her future quality of life. With a gold medal already among her list of achievements, the risk just wasn’t worth it; so, she’s stepping away from the only life she’s ever known.
“It's hard to wrap my mind around. Gymnastics has been my entire life, and now it's no more."

As for her future, Johnson has reportedly decided to give college a try. At only twenty-years-old, she won’t be too far behind the other students, and if she attacks the books with the same aggression she did the balance beam, she should be quite alright.

With a perky smile and amazing athletic ability, Johnson was an incredibly fun athlete to watch. Her achievements will be fondly remembered for years to come, and given her bubbly personality, it wouldn’t be a shock to eventually hear her on Olympic broadcasts in the future.

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