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Shawn Johnson          

U.S. Olympic Medalist in Gymnastics, "Dancing with the Stars" All-Star

Shawn Johnson burst onto the gymnastics scene in 2006, making her mark at the U.S. Nationals, where she won the junior title with a score that topped the entire women's field -- seniors included. She was known for her power and amplitude on all of her skills, capable of a vault that only a handful of gymnasts in the world have performed, a Yurchenko with 2 1/2 twists, and tumbled on the elevated, 4-inch-wide beam as if it were the floor.

Then an unknown coach, Liwen Liang made a gutsy move in 2005 when he submitted a videotape of Johnson's gymnastics to Martha Karolyi, the U.S. national team coordinator with a letter describing Shawn as "a gymnast who could help the U.S. team." Liang kept the letter a secret from Johnson, until one afternoon during the daily announcements when he told his entire team that Johnson had been invited to the Karolyi ranch, where the U.S. national team trains each month. "I was so proud of him," Johnson said. "[Going to the ranch] was something I really wanted and he made it happen."

In a nod to her coaches -- and the 2008 Olympic Games in China -- Johnson competed at the 2006 U.S. Nationals with her name in Chinese on her leotard. Johnson came up with the idea, and researched the characters on the Internet. In 2007 she went one better, adding Li, her beam coach, to the sleeve and Chow's Gymnastics, the name of her gym, to her warm-ups.

In 2007, Johnson went undefeated in the all-around at the senior level. In her first senior season, Johnson won the American Cup all-around title and then added three gold medals, including the all-around, at the Pan American Games before taking the U.S. national title in August. She dominated the all-around at the 2007 Worlds, winning by more than a point. Johnson also won a gold medal with the U.S. team and an individual floor exercise title.

Johnson entered the American Cup in March 2008 with an undefeated season behind her. She debuted -- and fell -- on a new vault and finished second to U.S. teammate Nastia Liukin. But at Nationals, Johnson hit the vault on both days of competition and topped Liukin in the all-around standings by a point, winning her second U.S. title. She continued her streak by hitting the vault both days at Olympic Trials on her way to finishing first and securing a spot on the 2008 Olympic Team.

Johnson was just 16 at the 2008 Olympics. Her coaches, Liang Chow and Liwen Zhuang are Beijing natives who met, and fell in love, while competing for the Chinese national team. Johnson returned from the Beijing Games with a silver team medal, silver in the individual all-around, silver on floor and a gold medal on the balance beam.

She announced her retirement in June 2012 after a persistent knee injury. Johnson has released two books and appeared on the eighth season of Dancing With The Stars, in which she won. She is currently appearing on the all-star edition of Dancing With The Stars.

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