Shawn Johnson was a breakout star of the 2008 Olympics games in Beijing. The gymnastics sensation took home four medals, including nabbing the gold for the balance beam. Shawn's perky personality and girl next door appeal won the hearts of Americans. Now, four years later, Shawn is 20, and ready to return to the mat in London 2012. "The way I got excited to get back on the mat is that I had a passion that hadn't gone away. I missed the sport. I missed competing and challenging myself on a day to day basis," reveals Johnson to Healthy Hollywood.
However, Shawn is quick to point out to Healthy Hollywood that this time around, she's more mature and taking control of her training and how she approaches the games. "The first time around I was 15/16 and was following coach's orders. If he told me to jump, I jumped. I didn't understand the physiology of gymnastics and what it took to get there - the conditioning, the practice, and the time. But, now I do and this time I'm doing it for me. I go into the gym and I know what type of conditioning I need to do. I coach myself with my coach on the side giving me advice."
The one thing that hasn't changed is Shawn's intense pre-Olympic training. She's practices 6 hours a day, including 4 hours at the gymnastics gym and another 2 hours at a fitness center doing cardio, Pilates, yoga - anything that helps to get her in stellar condition. "This time around my body has taken its toll. I've had two reconstructions on my knee (from a ski accident in 2010) and I know when my body needs a break and I need to back off. I'm just trying to be smarter."
Shawn also hopes to end her Olympic career with a fistful of medals, adding, "Retiring after this is definite. I'm ready to end this chapter on a high note and not wait another four years."
Yet, she admits none of her Olympic dreams would have been possible without the support of her mom, Teri. She celebrated her mother's selfless commitment at Procter & Gamble's "Thank You Mom" event in New York City. P & G announced it will give each mom of the nearly 800 U.S. competitors a $1000 to offset travel costs to London, which Shawn says is a huge help for many families already struggling with the costs of raising an athlete. "A lot of times parents can't afford to watch them in person at the games and the fulfillment of their child's dream and that's sad," adds Shawn.
Shawn is extremely grateful for her mom and will definitely plan to celebrate this Sunday's Mother's Day together. "She's always been there for me my biggest supporter, friend, cheerleader, advocate - she's been there for me from day one."
Give a warm shout-out of thanks to your mom at www.facebook.com/thankyoumom/app.
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