Shawn Johnson has been an household name ever since 2007. The famed gymnast has rose to stardom thanks a prolific career which includes a 2008 Olympic balance beam gold medal, all-around and floor exercise 2008 silver medal, five Pan American Games gold medals, and the title of 2007’s individual all-around World Champion.
Even after her retirement, Johnson has been completely captivating viewers — her “Dancing with the Stars” mirror ball trophy and three books serve as proof of that. Her career also includes extensive charity work and a partnership with Smucker’s which hopes to fund other Olympic hopefuls as they try to achieve their lifelong dreams.
Johnson has blazed an incredible path to success. And for those hoping to follow in her footsteps, she has one incredible piece of advice to share: “Find something you truly love and have a strong passion for, and have fun with it. When you love what you do, success comes naturally.”
They are words we could all live by.
We recently sat down with the incredible athlete to talk about where her love of gymnastics first started, her recent projects, and her one piece of advice to Olympic hopefuls.
When did you first discover your love for gymnastics?
Oh my gosh! Going way back. My parents put me in when I was three years old because I was this little kid who had way too much energy and they had no idea what to do with me. So they put me in a class where I fell in love with the trampoline and it was history since then.
What led you to pursue you gymnastics as a full-time career?
I don’t think I ever got to that point. I was a kid and a kid doesn’t necessarily have that mindset where they think they want to do something for the rest of their life. But I just loved gymnastics and the challenge and pursuing it every year. I wanted to keep challenging myself to get to my next goal or competition. It was never something where I wanted to commit everything to this, it was more just a passion.
You’ve also been doing a lot of work for the Olympics with Smucker’s. Can you talk about that?Smucker’s is doing a really cool campaign where every time you use the hashtag, which is the #PBJ4TeamUSA, they donate a dollar to the US Olympic Committee. So this is a cause close to my heart because it helps everyone go to the Olympics and see their dream through. It’s a very close connection. It’s more than a PB&J, it’s helping someone’s dream come true.
Where do you see the progression of your career going in the next few years?
I don’t really know. I just released a book yesterday and I just got certified as a Nike trainer, I’m going on tour, I’m doing commentary, I’m doing public speaking; I don’t really know what it’s going to accumulate to.
Do you hope to train other Olympic hopefuls?
Yeah! So I can train other athletes and individuals. Hopefully I can use this in a bigger way.
What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had received before you became a professional athlete?
Not to take it so seriously. At such a young age I felt like I was taking everything so seriously and I wish I would have stepped back a little bit and had a little more fun. But I loved every step of it so I can’t really complain. I don’t regret anything. But for the gymnasts headed to the Olympics now, I would tell them to enjoy everything.