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Born on January 19, 1992 in Des Moines, Iowa, Shawn Johnson is a be-medaled American gymnast who is best known for bagging the gold in the 2008 Olympic women’s balance beam event, as well as the individual all around silver medal. Johnson’s parents allegedly enrolled her in a gymnastics class after they noticed her climbing up cabinets and jumping down from tables when she was three. After three years when she turned 6, she became one of the first students of Liang Chow when he opened a school in West Des Moines. Chow is the current head coach of the US gymnastics women’s team and Johnson’s personal coach. She attends Valley High School in West Des Moines, where she is on the honor roll alongside a variety of extra-curricular activities. She logs in only 20 to 25 hours a week of gymnastics training, considerably less than the 40 hours of most elite gymnasts.
Johnson qualified to Junior International Elite status on her first try, attracting widespread attention at the 2005 U.S. Classic after she won third in the junior division. At the national championships of the same year, however, she fell from the beam and on the floor, and landed tenth in the all-around. The next year came, and Johnson came back with two top-difficulty skills on her arsenal: full-in beam dismount and double-twisting double back floor exercise mount. She consequently won the 2006 U.S. Junior National All-Around Championships.
In 2007, Johnson officially entered the senior division and participated in both the Tyson American Cup and the Pan American Games where she won the all-around title and bagged four gold medals, respectively. She also won the all-around at the 2007 Visa U.S. National Championships, after which she represented the U.S. at the 2007 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, winning by .950 points to second placer China. At the 2008 Beijing Games, she participated in all four events during the competition, where the US won the silver medal. She won the gold on the balance beam event.
Johnson is one of the stars participating in the eighth season of Dancing with the Stars, an ABC reality show.