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Knee Still Holding Back Shawn Johnson
(18 votes, average 3.72 out of 5)

The torn ACL Shawn Johnson sustained two years ago during a ski trip for her 18th birthday was pivotal to her return to the sport. Instead of ending any dreams of making a comeback, the injury actually made her realize how much she loved the sport. But after a full year of serious training at Chow's Gymnastics in West Des Moines, Iowa, Johnson is still not ready to really test her surgically repaired left knee.

So Johnson, who turned 20 on Jan. 19, has been spending time at Michael Johnson Performance in McKinney, Texas. Dallas native Michael Johnson, a retired Olympic gold medalist in track & field, opened the center in 2007. Its purpose is to help youth and professional athletes get stronger.

Shawn is hopeful that the intense workouts at MJP will make the difference and help her gain the confidence to do some of the difficulty she had in 2008. Coach Liang Chow said that Shawn can do an Amanar vault "beautifully," for example, but only into a loose-foam pit.

"She can jump straight very good," he said. "She's just afraid of twisting on a landing with that leg."

Shawn's clubmate Gabrielle Douglas, on the other hand, is doing well, Chow said. And while a pulled hamstring hampered her training of an Amanar last year, Douglas is working the vault regularly now with the goal of competing it this season.

"It's a really difficult vault, and you need some good training numbers and competitive experience," Chow said.

Douglas, who placed fifth on uneven bars at the 2011 world championships, is also upgrading that event.

"I'm not sure which [new skills] will be going into the routine, but we still have time," Chow said.

Which isn't the case with Johnson, he said.

"This is not an easy road for Shawn, especially after two years off, and also her knee condition," he said. "She's giving 100 percent, and we're giving her 100 percent, but we have to face reality. …The problem is that she has to have two [strong] legs."

Known for his perpetual smile, Chow is still able to keep things in perspective.

"I was joking with [Shawn], and I said, 'For your birthday there's no ski trip anymore,'" he said with a laugh.

Chow has two very different Olympic hopefuls in Johnson and Douglas. The former is an 2008 Olympic gold medalist (balance beam) who is desperately trying to find her form, while the latter is trying to learn how to harness her immense potential.

There are a lot of challenges ahead of us," Chow said. "But it's fun."

Comments (3)add comment

c_bmxjump said:

custom knee braces
I'm surprised to see that Shawn is not wearing a custom knee brace to help prevent future ACL tears. I wear a custom Donjoy Female Fource knee brace for both knees since I have torn both ACLs from gymnastics in the past. After surgery, my doctor order the knee braces and I swear by them. I currently compete in trampoline and double mini and would not be able to do what I do if it wasn't for these braces.
January 30, 2012
Votes: +3

Rachel T said:

Don't think the Olympic comeback will be in the cards
I really admire Shawn, but have to admit things don't sound very good. You clearly can feel the undertones from this article, especially with Chow's comments. When a coach publicly addresses concerns like this, then it usually is even a bit more severe than what they are touting. She doesn't seem to be nearly ready like she should be at this stage right before the Olympics. What a shame, but I don't have a good feeling about this one.
February 01, 2012
Votes: +0

gymgrrrl said:

Poor Shawn
Poor Shawn. It sounds she may be a long shot for London. I hope she can pull it off.
February 01, 2012
Votes: +1

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