She's 16 years old. She's 4' 9" and weighs about 90 pounds. She's intelligent, determined, friendly and has a smile so bright she's started a worldwide fire. She is Shawn Johnson winner of one gold and three silver medals at the Beijing Olympics. She also happens to live in my metro area.
I live just off downtown Des Moines and Shawn lives in West Des Moines in a house her father built, not as a contractor, but with his own hands. Her parents, Doug and Teri, have done an amazing job. While Shawn is indeed an elite athlete, one of the best in the world, she is also just an Iowa teen.
With her parents guidance Shawn has trained full-time to be an Olympic star, while keeping her eye on graduating from high school and having as normal a life as possible. Doug and Teri have never pressured Shawn to be a star sports figure, just that if you are going to commit to something, follow through. On the other hand, if she lost her passion, they didn't want her to feel pressure to keep performing - it's all been up to her. In a world where you hear horror stories about 'stage parents' and kids being pushed to illness while training to act, play sports or dance, Doug and Teri have used their Iowa values to help Shawn have balance.
I have had the pleasure of interviewing Shawn, Doug and Teri a couple of times. Each time I was moved and inspired by their love. They are their own team, just like a family should be. And Shawn is clear on how much she is loved and I believe that is why she has an edge over so many athletes.
So, congratulations to Shawn on winning in Beijing! And to Doug and Teri for winning the ultimate - the award for raising a kind, happy, well-adjusted teen. (Oh, and she just happens to be a world class athlete too.)
Yours in fitness, Kate