Shawn Johnson has announced her retirement from gymnastics, despite her desire to make the 2012 Olympic team.
“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.”
Johnson said she chose to announce the news immediately so as not to take attention away from the impending Olympic trials.
“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.”
As for her future, the gymnast, said she has “many goals and plans” to pursue.
“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.”
In addition to winning four Olympic medals and three World career medals, the athlete took home the “Dancing with the Stars” mirrorball trophy in 2009, alongside partner Mark Ballas.