June 04, 2012 02:19:25 GMT
The 20-year-old Gold medalist says of her plan after retiring, 'I am going to college, want to work with philanthropic foundations, and hope to inspire new generations to follow their own dreams.'
20-year-old gymnast Shawn Johnson announced retirement. The 2009 winner of "Dancing with the Stars", who has three World gold medals and one gold and three silver Olympic medals, was forced to cut her efforts to make her second Olympic team short due to recurring knee problems. She thanked her parents, sponsors and fans for their supports.
"I still have the heart, drive, and desire to compete and help the USA at the London Olympics," she said in a statement. "Unfortunately, it has become obvious that my left knee is not able to sustain the demands of gymnastics any longer. All I can do now is gracefully retire and thank everyone who has believed in me and my journey."
On Twitter, she wrote, "Trust me guys this isnt the last of me! Cant get rid of me that easily! THANK YOU ALL 4 your unmeasured support. Just on2 the next chapter!"
Talking about why she announced the retirement weeks before the Olympics kick-off, the Gold medalist reasoned, "I am announcing this now so the focus for the next three weeks will be on the incredibly talented gymnasts who are trying to make our 2012 Olympic Team."
Although she won't compete, Shawn continues to support Team USA. "I have had the honor to train and compete with them, and I am excited to join the gymnastics family and fans in cheering them on to victory. I will be there with every ounce of pride and energy to cheer on my girls and Team USA," she gushed.
Now that she retires, Shawn is "very excited about starting the next part of my journey." She said, "I have many goals and plans I want to pursue. I am going to college, want to work with philanthropic foundations, and hope to inspire new generations to follow their own dreams and pursue their passions. I also will continue to be involved in the growth of gymnastics because it has been an important part of my life for 15 years."
Shawn injured her knee in a January 2010 ski accident. Her condition got worse as she increased her training for the summer games. "It's been a really hard decision. How can you tell yourself, 'No, I think it's time to say it's finally done?'," she told the Associated Press. "I'd like to be 30 and have kids and run around with them. It became more about my future life than this future one moment. I'm looking at the bigger picture of things."