This past Tuesday, former United States Olympic Gymnast Shawn Johnson came to speak at Bryant University. Her story was a very interesting and inspiring one. Despite winning a gold medal, she talked about how it was winning a silver medal that was her proudest moment. Everyone was expecting her to win gold in the all around routine at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Right before it was her turn in the final event, Johnson was eliminated from gold by teammate Nastia Liuken. Despite the anguish and the frustration, she looked at her coach and realized something important: no matter what happens she is not going to please everyone who wanted her to win gold, but she can still go out and be the best that she can possibly be. This led to a near flawless performance in the final routine to take home the silver medal.
Redefining what winning looks like has been an important concept for Shawn Johnson in her post Olympic career. After retiring before the 2012 Olympics, Johnson has gone on to do motivational speeches, attend college, and start a gym for those interested in extreme sports. All of this has been accomplished at just 21 years old. In fact, that was the one thing that continued to amaze me. Being just two weeks older than her myself, I kept picturing what it must be like to experience what she did at such a young age: starting gymnastics at 3 years old, participating in Dancing with the Stars at 13 years old, then having the pressure of representing an entire country expecting you to bring home gold at just 16 years old. You could definitely tell by hearing her speak that she was mature beyond her years. I really enjoyed listening to her speak and answer questions, and hope that she continues to be successful in her post-Olympic life.
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