April 29, 2015

Shawn Johnson, U.S. Olympian, "Dancing with the Stars" Winner, Shares Secrets of Success at Student Wellness Retreat

Shawn Johnson, a member of the winning 2008 U.S. women’s senior gymnastics team, brought a message of perseverance and trusting one’s heart to the 2015 Student Wellness Retreat in Albany earlier this month.

Shawn Johnson gestures as she speaks at the 2015 Student Wellness Retreat

‌Shawn Johnson, a member of the winning 2008 U.S. women’s senior gymnastics team, brought a message of perseverance and trusting one’s heart to the 2015 Student Wellness Retreat in Albany in April.

The gymnast, who also appeared  -- and prevailed -- on “Dancing with the Stars,” and who was “fired” by Donald Trump from "Celebrity Apprentice," gave an encouraging talk, in which she poked fun at herself and stressed the importance of motive in pursuing dreams.

Johnson joked that as a child “with a six-pack and biceps” and a genderless name, not only did girls think she was a boy, “but so did the boys.”

Her parents signed her up for gymnastics classes because she was a rambunctious, high-energy, three-year-old, who, she says, probably would be put on meds for ADHD were she such a youngster today.

The climax of her speech was a telling anecdote about performing her solo routine, despite knowing that she would not qualify for a gold medal, because of her previous scores. She said that she felt she had “let the whole world down,” since she had been favored to win gold in the event. She even wondered if it was worth it to do the routine. Looking over to her coach, Liang Chow, she saw him give the nod of his head that meant everything was okay, and to go forward. She said that even though she realized the gold was out of grasp, she went out and did the best performance of her life. When done, she looked up to see an amazing show of support from people of all nations waving little flags. Her performance garnered a silver medal and she said it made her realize how important it is to succeed for oneself, not because of anyone else’s expectations or pressures.

She has a total of four medals, three silver and one gold, from the 2008 Olympics, as well as numerous World Championship titles. Her immediate future includes earning an online degree as an adult student.

Earlier in the day, Johnson recorded a segment with Channel 13, Albany, the local NBC station, where “Celebrity Apprentice” is part of the network lineup. She also took questions from an empathetic audience, many of whom seemed to have followed her on “Dancing with the Stars” and “Celebrity Apprentice.”

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