I want you all to realize how many natural impulses I had to fight down to ask an Olympic gymnast about wedgies, but I did it. BECAUSE I LOVE YOU. (For those unfamiliar with Shawn Johnson, she’s a recently retired Olympic balance beam gold medalist, a floor exercise silver medalist, and a world champion. Oh. And she won Dancing with the Stars. And she’s only 20. We interviewed her at the P&G Family home in London.)
TheGloss: Do you have any tricks you use before you compete that you use to keep calm? It must be really nerve-racking before you go out there.
Shawn Johnson: I always used to talk to my dad. That’s kind of a must. I’d do that before every competition, whether it was in the morning or right before, I had to hear from him. And he always gave me reassurance that “we don’t care how you do! We just want you to have fun, and go out there. But I listen to music a lot. I know a lot of athletes listen to hard-core, get the adrenaline going stuff, and I never did. I always listened to very soothing music, just to keep myself calm.
TheGloss: Do you have any favorite songs?
SJ: I always listened to “Have a Little Faith in Me” by Mandy Moore. It was something about it. It got to me. I always listened to it before a competition.
ED NOTE: Let’s all listen now:
TG: Was there a time in your life when your life that you realized this was going to be a career? I did gymnastics growing up and it was pretty clear that it was not going to be one for me early on.
SJ: I think that’s only become apparent to me more recently. In 2008 I knew that I was being given so many opportunities to do stuff with gymnastics, but taking it in as a career and seeing it as my job only became something when I was doing during my comeback [in 2010, after tearing her ACL]. Earlier on, it was just for fun. I never thought it was going to take my anywhere. I just thought it was, you know, an after school activity.
TG: I know you’ve had some injuries, and you mentioned your body needed a rest. I’ve heard a lot about joint damage that gymnasts end up with. Is there anything you can do to prevent that? Do you worry about it?