Shawn Johnson Retires

ESPN cares about something besides the Skankees

In the worst kept secret of all time Shawn Johnson has decided to retire.

Many people are getting on her case for stringing the world along but if you ask me she did herself proud. She tried the comeback. She worked hard, made the Pan Am Games team and looks like she gave it her full effort for over a year. That deserves a lot of credit.

She has probably been stringing the world along for a few months now and while I don’t condone that at least her intentions at first were to help team USA. How do we know this because she proved it last year. Maybe if she had Nastia’d it instead she would still be competing right now.

It’s a shame that the gymnasts who did it the right way with the best of intentions are the ones breaking down two month before the Olympics.

You know what else Shawn deserves credit for? not announcing her retirement during Worlds Nationals. She could have gone the Prima donna route and announced it during Worlds, Nationals but she didn’t. I also think the reason she waited a few days was to give the Memmel stuff a chance to run its course. The Memmel stuff has died down over the last few days.

So while pounding on your knee is a lot different then dancing on it I wish Shawn the best of luck in her future shot at “fame”



41 Responses to “Shawn Johnson Retires”

  1. brainy Says:

    I can remember (vaguely) watching an interview during the 2008 Olympics in which Shawn said she’d be willing to continue for the 2012 Games, if her body holds out. I remember thinking then that it’s great to hear such maturity from a sixteen-year old. Shawn’s got a good head on her shoulders and has burnished her reputation. I predict that she’ll be one of the flag bearers bringing the Olympic flag into the stadium when the Games return to the US in 20 years.

  2. Kel Says:

    You make some excellent points about Shawn’s timing of announcing her retirement. I do believe, as you said, that her comeback was very genuine in the beginning. However, it seems pretty clear that in the last few weeks or even months, the comeback just wasn’t going to happen. A week ago on twitter, she was still telling fans that she planned on competing at Nationals. I find it hard to believe that was still the case a week ago. I hate to think that Shawn kept going for all of the Olympic media coverage. In the end, I really do hope that she just didn’t believe it herself and wanted to keep pushing herself.

    • JAS4 Says:

      There is also a possibility that USAG told her to drag out her retirement because she was so popular for them and I could see Shawn going along with it not because she is some sort of villan but because she seems like the non confrontational type and wouldn’t want to go up against them

  3. JAS4 Says:

  4. nero Says:

    While I do think her comeback started out legit, she has known for months that she was going to retire and blatantly lied when asked about training. That to me is, well, not cool.

    She announced this two days before her book came out. And all of the girls at the media summit apparently knew this was her plan all along, that Gabby quote lends some credence to this.

    I feel bad for her fans, most of whom probably don’t know the difference between an Amanar and full-in, who were genuinely cheering for her to return.

    I DO think this announcement was calculated for maximum exposure/interviews. I liked her as a gymnast 4 years ago but she seems more of a brand now then anything

    • gymtruthteller Says:

      All of these gymnasts seem to care more about the camera’s then they did in 96. You never saw Miller or Dawes waving directly into the camera. Moceanu did.

      They have all gone media hungry.

      • nero Says:

        I really never minded the attention Shawn got, I mean sometimes it/she was annoying but I can see why people were drawn to her. But it’s just become more and more calculated. It’s been obvious that she has been done for a while and she continued on with endorsements and interviews telling everyone that things are going great. That’s gross.

      • JAS4 Says:

        I have a feeling she was just going along with whatever everyone else said her manager, USAG, etc…. Not that it makes it right by any means but I think if it were her idea and she wouldn’t have been tweeting about everything but the gym if it were her idea she would have probably been tweeting about the gym and putting on a better front I wouldn’t be surprised if she was just doing as told not that it’s right but it’s a good possibility

    • Gymbee Says:

      Totally agree nero. Definitely it was calculated: her and her agent would be idiots if they didn’t plan this. She IS a businesswoman now, everything she does is part of her business/brand.

      I don’t think she just decided on sunday to throw in the towel out of the blue, not when there was so much money/media exposure at stake. Like even if she had decided months ago to retire, it was important to do all the Olympic related media appearances just to keep her name in the mix, with her book coming out and everything.

  5. Shawn Fan! Says:

    I teared up a bit when I heard the news, but I’m glad she’s moving on to what I’m certain are bigger and better things. I recall she mentioned in an interview a few months ago that she was hoping to attend business school at Stanford – hopefully that worked out for her!

    As some had already pointed out, Shawn’s got a good head on her shoulders. Life is more than about winning medals and fame – it’s about how you carry yourself and the decisions you make. I’m happy that she’s moving onto other endeavors in life, and am relieved that I didn’t have to witness an out-of-shape, desperate, and aging Shawn doing ugly routines to prolong her gymnastics career like Kim Zmeskal, Nastia Liukin, Shannon Miller, Dominique Moceanu, etc. who had failed comeback attempts. Perhaps this knee injury was a blessing in disguise. My gymnastics memories of Shawn will and continue to be her bright smile in spite of the silver medal(s) and the tears I shared with her when she finally won gold.

    In regards to the timing, she’s gotta make a decision NOW before VISA’s this week and I don’t blame her for prolonging her decision as being an elite female gymnast had been essentially her life since childhood. And, can I fault her for trying to earn a bit more income…certainly not!

    I have much admiration for Shawn in part because she’s one of those people who doesn’t need pedigrees such as gold medals, degrees, titles, etc. to earn my respect. Hear that nastia, doesn’t matter how many gold medals you “earn”, doesn’t matter how hard you try to stay on that beam, and it doesn’t matter how many little drones you can assimilate into your “hot pink” mess, I will never have respect for you.

    • gymtruthteller Says:

      Zmeskal, Miller and Moceanu all attempted comebacks and trained full time. They didn’t go to gyms and charge money to speak when they were telling people they were training. They deserve credit for giving it all they had. So does Shawn.

  6. Dee Says:

    Sad, but I’m not surprised. She had a great career no matter how long she decided to drag this announcement out. Glad we all know now instead of asking “where is Shawn?” during night 1 of visas.

  7. doughnut sundae Says:

    I am shocked… dumbfounded. The announcement was so sudden, so totally out of the blue. Obviously, this was not something Shawn had planned. Like most iconic athletes, I am sure she wanted to exit the stage of history with the same passion and clarity of purpose she had when she first walked on it – a champion’s farewell.

    No doubt she must have REALLY hurt her knee training for Nationals, I’m guessing within the last week. There’s no way she could wiggle out of athletic commitments and business contracts without somebody leaking the news on a social media site. I think USAG, her sponsors and such were bamboozled at pretty much the same time… right before the official press release.

    • Aerial Says:

      Doughnut Sundae, first of all you sound delicious. Second of all, I disagree with every sentence you wrote! lol.

      It was the opposite of sudden to me. From all the places and things she was photographed doing, the total stopping of tweeting about anything to do with training or the sport for awhile now, and continuing to drop out of everything when she was apparently nervous about competing, most of us were waiting for her to announce she obviously was no longer training, and time was running out. I think her knee is an excuse… others trying for the team have been through far worse than her, plus she has competed and rehabbed successfully in the past year.

      For those that wanted to be played, she played them for the past while. Until about a month ago, I was seriously rooting for her and hoping a miracle would occur and she would suddenly be training, communicating about her goals, and not living a publicity lifestyle dedicated to self-promotion and making $$$ while everyone else was training their guts out.

      I did preorder her book and I guess it should arrive this week. I think she waited until close enough to the Games to be seen as an Olympian by all her sponsors and to continue to play the game and rake in the money, as well as not screw up potential book sales too far in advance. She went from being my favourite athlete to someone cheesing me off. I gave up on her when she said she wasn’t going to Classics because she was sick, then was photographed out and about in LA with friends… much less resting in Iowa, or if she felt that well, training for Nationals.

      She suddenly says she will go to the Olympics to be there for the girls? She’s been the only ‘candidate’ who hasn’t bothered to wish her teammates well or promote the competitions on any of her public media pages (despite obviously being a key link for USAG) but has lots of time to post about her book and all the social shiz she’s been doing.

      I’m over it and honestly pretty surprised the way she conducted herself the past while. In a way, she owes the public nothing, but for what used to be such a sweet girl, she certainly isn’t winning any new fans or making much of a case for her integrity. Her endorsements are all a result of popularity, which is achieved by public support. Otherwise it would be her poor teammate Gabby who could be on those 2012 Summer Olympics soft drinks.

      I will definitely be reading the book with a completely different feeling in my gut. I wish her the best in the future, and am not a rabid freaking out person like many, but has she lost my respect – yes. Not because she retired – but how it all played out.

      • sanitynmotion Says:

        I both agree and disagree with you Aerial. I agree that it was played out in a fashion that isn’t representative of what we know (or believe we know) as the “true Shawn Johnson.” However, I believe she was at the mercy of her sponsors and even USAG as to how this was to be played out. She’s a brand now, and when she signs those contracts she gives up control of how she is managed – or how her brand is managed. When she announced her comeback, she did it on her own terms and surprised everyone. I’m sure when she re-signed with her sponsors, there was a portion of that contract dedicated to them knowing first-off any major decisions about her athletic career – including retirement or quitting. Because they really can’t make money marketing an athlete who can’t compete anymore due to injury (or what have you) I’m sure they made her postpone releasing any statements about retirement for as long as they could. Yes, it sucks for the girls remaining in the competition but that’s just the way life works. Money talks.

        I don’t agree though that she just used her knee as an excuse. I have been reading elsewhere many reports that as she increased her numbers in the gym, the knee just wasn’t handling it. She’d show up to practice with it so swollen she couldn’t even do anything that day, and I guess it was Chow who finally suggested that she stop doing this to herself or risk blowing out her knee altogether and having to undergo a complete surgical reconstruction. That must have taken a lot of guts and must have been a huge time of sorrow for her – unlike “some,” she spent a lot of time investing in this comeback and I truly believe it was for all of the right reasons. However, if you can’t come back to near 100% and are risking your physical health long-term, I understand her decision. I am sure being at the Olympics and not competing will be tragic on some level for her. It’s the beginning of the realization that the sport has moved on (and will continue to do so) without you.

        It’s her sponsors too that are sending her to London as a “representative” of sorts. It’s not like she’s going because she wants more media attention. She’s literally going because it’s in her contract to be there to represent her sport (but more truthfully, represent her brand – this is the last time they can really market her since she’s no longer technically a competing gymnast).

        I also don’t agree that she hasn’t wished well on the other girls. At least she made her retirement announcement right before nationals with integrity, and said she wanted the attention to be on the competing girls rather than on her. She’s also been very supportive of Gabby and has said nothing but nice things about her and the other gymnasts throughout her comeback (even when she wasn’t selected for the worlds team, she was very supportive). Some “other” (coughNastiacough) gymnasts would probably use the nationals to promote themselves further and compete relatively watered-down routines before ending their careers, but not Shawn. And even if some attention IS given to her during nationals, it’s well deserved. She spent two years (not six months) in comeback mode and was a great role model. I can’t blame her for receiving endorsements that were well-deserved and allowed her to focus on training full time. She’s worked her whole entire life for this, and now it’s all over – I wish her the best of luck and will miss watching her compete.

      • Aerial Says:

        Interesting. Thanks for the reply. I didn’t know about the showing up with a huge swollen knee. Maybe more (and regarding the comeback timeline) may come about later on… after the Games.
        I am still happy to share any scintillating tidbits from the book with my GTT buddies.

      • sanitynmotion Says:

        Yes please do 🙂 I would like to know what’s in her book. And I hope more comes out later as to what was going on with her knee. I would even like to know how close she got to that amanar and what her beam upgrades were and floor passes. Hopefully someone in that gym took a few you tube vidoes. 🙂

        I think the first clue we all had that it was worse than we thought was her decision to take six weeks off to go to that rehab facility in Colorado. She did all she could do.

      • Gymbee Says:

        Well said Aerial and Sanitynmotion!
        I understand that she is a brand and all that, she needed to maintain the illusion of being an olympic athlete. I am just sad that she tricked her actual fans, by talking about how she couldn’t wait to show everyone hew new skills and how “great” training was going, when it obviously wasn’t, not if she was showing up with a swollen knee and rehab and what have you 😦

      • Dee Says:

        Aerial-did you get the book yet? I’ve been away and am hoping it is in my mailbox when I return!

      • Aerial Says:

        I think it is released tomorrow… ordered it through Amazon, so am hoping to have it by the end of the week or early next week (always go for free shipping not priority.)

      • sanitynmotion Says:

        Yeah it irritates me too that she was telling her fans that she was excited to compete not even a week ago. Anyone who follows gymnastics probably can guess that this retirement plan was not discussed as recent as Friday – which is what the articles are trying to make you believe. We all know this was in the works. I am giving her the benefit of the doubt here that she was just doing what her agent/sponsors/USAG was telling her to do since she’s tied to them financially. I’m sure they told her that she needed to keep her marketability up for the time being until they gave her the green light.

      • doughnut sundae Says:

        “Don’t expect the old Shawn Johnson…”

        In hindsight Shawn really was unsure about her comeback. But it was all too easy for fans like me to mistake humility for conceit. It was easy because Shawn has always been a dispassionate hero, an oddity in a sport that is Made in Emotion.

        Except for a quivering voice at her retirement press conference, I don’t think Shawn has ever been drawn out to sea by an emotional undertow, well not in public anyway. She is always so indirect, so politically correct, that you can’t help but wonder just how genuine some of her motives really are. Does she have the courage to say what she thinks? Or is she just telling us what we want to hear?

        In the end we are charmed by her magnetic appearance and bubbly personality, so we leave these questions to linger. Were it not for her integrity, I might be inclined to agree with you, that this whole retirement thing had been orchestrated.

  8. Gymbee Says:

    Sucks 😦 I was really hoping she could pull a Memmel at Nationals. She must have known for quite a while though, and I think the timing, with her book coming out and all was purely calculated to gain the most that she could from media exposure and adverts and what not.

    But who can blame her! It was a smart move. That thing is her job, and I don’t think the mainstream fan would think she had led them along.
    I still think there will be a chapter in her book about retirement. We’ll find out tomorrow! Or maybe that will be covered in Shawn Johnson the sequel 😉

    I think it was good for her to retire though, she’s gonna need her body for 70 years still.

  9. Gymsurfer Says:

    I love how she said that gymnastics taught her to “always set the bar high” in whatever she does in life. She said it so earnestly that you wonder if she realized the pun. LOL.

  10. sanitynmotion Says:

    This was truly a downer, but I guess it had been in the works for awhile. I had no idea Gabby was telling people she hadn’t seen Shawn in a month (if I had, then I would have taken back my whole “she’s got something up her sleeves” attitude). I’m sure her sponsors and her agent were all in on the “exit plan” for weeks at least. I really doubt she meant to string any of her fans along – I’m sure she’s already getting some flak for it – but she has to do what those that pay her want her to do. It’s what a contract is for…I’m sure Nike/Coke/etc. wanted a saying in how it was handled since she technically (or her brand at least) belongs to them.

    That said, I can’t help but wonder how it all went down. I hope she eventually releases more details. Surely Shawn wanted to come back strong at nationals this year, and had the best/most honest intentions at heart. She wouldn’t have spent two years doing this for nothing. She was getting there; at Pac Rims we saw her full back on beam (even though she fell on it it still indicated she was able to do it) and she was training a new floor routine and not talking about the tumbling passes (hoping it would be a surprise). It’s just truly a bummer because I would have loved to have seen her compete at least one more time. Out of all the 2008 Olympians, she was the one I was rooting for the most. Now I honestly just want the London team to be made up of all of the “young” girls…

    I will still always have a respect for Shawn – she’s probably my second-favorite gymnast of all time (behind Shannon Miller).

    • Gymbee Says:

      Yeah I don’t think she meant to “string the fans along”, she seems like such a nice girl.
      When she has contracts with Nike, Bounty, Coke and a book deal she has to listen to what they want. But a month ago she was talking about how she was excited to show everyone her new skills, and with Gabby not having seen her for a month, in effect she did “string fans along”.
      Anyway, I hope she has success in her future endeavours 🙂

  11. H Says:

    It would be nice though if she made it to nationals:-) But now I will probably buy the book.

    Question, of topic: anyone know how I can send email to GTT?
    Thank you.

  12. gymster Says:

    I wonder if she was going to announce originally after or at nationals, but Memmelgate had USAG begging to announce earlier?…

    • tulip Says:

      I completely agree. I feel certain that Steve Penny may have made it difficult not to retire. The wording in her announcement sounds a little forced. But I also admit that I may be reading into it.

    • nero Says:

      No, USAG and all of the national team, including the girls, knew this was her plan months ago. She says she’s going to go to nationals, trials and the Olympics to cheer on the girls (Who could probably care less if she’s there or not) but 2 weeks ago she was going to classics to cheer on Gabby and that didn’t happen and a week ago she was competing at nationals, and that didn’t happen.

      Sigh, I know it’s inevitable but the fact that she’ll probably get more press and interviews in London then the actual girls competing is just going to piss me off

      I think it’s great that she has brought more outside fans to gymnastics, but people have to learn that there are more US gymnasts out there besides Shawn Johnson. I mean I was just over on USAG facebook and every other comment was “I miss Shawn!!!!” “What about Shawn?” “Is Shawn going to trials???”

      I will say, however, that it really got under my skin when articles and whatnot described her as an Olympic gymnast and a ~DANCING WITH THE STARS CHAMPION!!!!!!~

  13. JAS4 Says:

  14. JAS4 Says:

    • Aerial Says:

      Yup. I’m sure more will come out later after everything’s well and done with. But those who think it was a very recent decision are wearing rose-coloured glasses. It would have taken time to ask for and get those statements from all of her sponsors… not just on a Sunday afternoon. It was well-calculated.
      I wonder when the book is getting to my porch.

  15. KMA Says:

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