Shawn Johnson, who rose from West Des Moines to the heights of Olympic glory at the 2008 Beijing Games and never forgot where she came from, announced her retirement today from competitive gymnastics.
Johnson's retirement comes following two knee surgeries to repair damage caused in a skiing accident.
"This is a really hard moment," Johnson said in a conference call with reporters, according to USA Today. "I still have the heart, drive and desire to compete. Unfortunately, my road has been cut a little short."
Johnson's electric performances in China propelled her to the top of the gymnastics world and made her one of the most popular gymnasts of all time. Her career includes three silvers and one gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games and three gold medals from world championships.
Johnson reached her decision Friday after discussions with her coach Liang Chow and national team coordinator Martha Karolyi, USA Today reported.
"It's been a constant fight. It came down to there wasn't enough time left to heal," Johnson said. "I couldn't push myself any further. My knee physically wouldn't let me do anymore."
Despite a furious schedule to rehab her knee, Johnson continued to make plenty of time for Iowa, with recent stops in Ankeny, Des Moines, Iowa City and West Des Moines, among other cities in the state.
In February, she joined First Lady Michelle Obama at Wells Fargo Area in Des Moines, leading a raucous crowd of children -- and Gov. Terry Branstad -- in a version of the UNI Interlude Dance.
More recently, in April, Johnson and her mother, Teri Johnson, visited Westridge Elementary School in West Des Moines to promote a contest for moms sponsored by Bounty.