Olympic champion Shawn Johnson showed exquisite poise both in Beijing, where she won four medals, including an individual gold, and back at home, where she faced a career-ending knee injury, a stalker and the spotlight of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”
Johnson will explain how she found balance on the beam and in her life after gymnastics when she launches the 2013-14 Speaker Series at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, on Thursday, Oct. 3. The program, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in the McGarvey Commons of the college’s Reed Union Building, is free and open to the public.
Johnson was just 16 when she competed in Beijing in 2008. She was the American favorite: a two-time National Champion with a kilowatt smile and her own Coke ad campaign. She won gold on the balance beam and silver in the floor, team and individual all-around competitions.
The next year, she joined the cast of “Dancing with the Stars.” She and her partner, Mark Ballas, won the competition, earning 10s for a cha-cha to “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing).” Johnson returned for the show’s 2012 all-star edition and finished second.
By then she had retired from gymnastics. She wrote a memoir, “Winning Balance,” developed a Wii game and judged the Miss America Pageant. Her appearance at Penn State Behrend is made possible by the college’s Student Activity Fee, the Division of Student Affairs and the Harriet Behrend Ninow Memorial Lecture Series Fund.