We caught up with 2008 Olympic Champion Shawn Johnson as she travels on the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions with the Final Five and other stars of the sport. In this interview, Shawn talks with us about the injuries that forced her to retire, the U.S. program without Martha, and her future plans.

Inside Gymnastics: So tell us about the tour! How is this tour different from others you’ve done?
Shawn Johnson: This is only my second tour with gymnastics, my first time was after my Olympics in ’08, and I feel like it’s completely different. When it’s right after the Olympics, it can be crazy and chaotic, and you’re still kind of on that whirlwind. Now I feel like, eight years later, I can just enjoy it and hang out with my friends and soak it all in. But it’s been a blast, we’re loving it and don’t want it to end.

Inside: What advice do you give to the “Final Five” about life after winning gold and everything that comes with that?
Shawn: My goodness, I don’t know. I feel like they’re still on that whirlwind and trying to figure everything out. The one thing I tell them, along with Nastia and everyone else, is just to sort through it one thing at a time, take one day at a time, and remember that you’re human, and they can say no…and it’s going to be confusing for a while, but that’s normal.

Inside: Do you think that the U.S. women’s program will change now that Martha Karolyi has retired?
Shawn: I don’t know enough about how it’s all going to work to know the answer, but I would honestly say probably not. I feel like Martha has laid an incredible foundation in her program, and I think Valeri believes in that program, and he’s going to continue with it.

Inside: I know you’ve talked about possibly coaching gymnastics at some point, would you consider coaching elite gymnasts?
Shawn: I don’t really know; I don’t know who it is I would want to coach or what I want to do exactly. I’ve always loved the idea of coaching collegiate… I don’t know if I could coach elite because—it’s just so intense. I want to have more fun with it than that.

Inside: I’d like to talk a little bit about your elite career during the time of your comeback. Could you walk us through your competitions in 2011? You had such a strong showing at Pan Ams, which was five years ago now…
Shawn: Yeah, my comeback was stemmed [by] my injury to my knee. I just really wanted to get my body healthy again and I wanted to know that I could still do gymnastics. My first few meets back were pretty rough, but I think I learned a lot from them; they were learning experiences. And then qualifying to Pan Ams after breaking my ankle the same week as World selection camp—there’s so much that happened and went on, but I feel like it was truly a success, and for me it was the perfect ending for my career.

Inside: What were some of the things that prompted your retirement in June 2012? Had you reinjured your knee at any point since Pan Ams?
Shawn: Yes, I did. I had already gone through two knee surgeries and I needed a third; I had a partially torn labrum, a fractured back, and then my body was just falling apart. Unfortunately, I wanted to continue, but my body was telling me no, so I didn’t really have a choice.

Inside: Have you ever thought seriously about attempting another comeback after 2012?
Shawn: Uh, no [laughs]. I’m done, I will forever be done. I love it, I’d love to do it again, but I can’t.

Inside: What do you think was the greatest moment in your gymnastics career? Was it winning beam gold at 2008 Olympics?
Shawn: I don’t know. The Olympics was obviously a huge highlight. But I think for me it was the all-around competition or the team competition. I have never felt so close to the girls than I did during the team [final], and it was a really, really special moment. And the all-around is truly what I dreamed of…

Inside: Do you think you’re going to write any more books?
Shawn: I’d love to…I don’t have any plans yet, but yeah, I’d love to. I’d love to write sequels to the ones I have, and share more of my story if I can.

Inside: So what’s next for you, after the tour is over?
Shawn: I got married about six months ago, and have yet to really spend time with my husband, so after the tour’s over, I plan to go home and be a wife and enjoy the feeling of life for a while.

Shawn Johnson Through The Years

Shawn Johnson - 2006 Nationals

2006 Nationals

Worlds

Worlds

Shawn Johnson - 2008 American Cup

2008 American Cup

2008 American Cup

2008 American Cup

2011 Nationals

2011 Nationals

2016 Olympic Trials

2016 Olympic Trials

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Anna Rose Johnson writes about women’s artistic and rhythmic gymnastics. She loves Whippets, brownies, and full-twisting double layouts. Her writing portfolio can be viewed at: https://annarosejohnson.contently.com