Four-time Olympic medalist Shawn Johnson announced Sunday that she is retiring from gymnastics. She'd come back to the sport in hopes of making the 2012 Olympic Team, but has decided to pull out of the team selection process at this point.
She said, in a statement, "I still have the heart, drive, and desire to compete and help the USA at the London Olympics. Unfortunately, it has become obvious that my left knee is not able to sustain the demands of gymnastics any longer. All I can do now is gracefully retire and thank everyone who has believed in me and my journey. "
The knee she is referring to was injured during a 2009 ski accident, and she's said many times that it hasn't felt the same since then. Later, in a press conference, she added, "Even if I had been at 100%, it would have taken everything I had and it would have taken luck [to make the team]" due to the depth of talent of US gymnastics. But said, "I couldn't be prouder of myself and how far I've come."
Johnson is planning to go to London to cheer on the US team, and hopes to enroll in college (possibly Stanford or Vanderbilt) next fall, if not sooner. "I'm scared to death to know what the future holds...I haven't really thought about it yet! But I'm excited as well."
Johnson is one of the most popular US gymnasts ever, and to her fans she said, "Thank you, and I'm sorry...Having them in the stands has made my journey worth it. Saying goodbye to them and thank you is hard. I'm sorry if I upset them or disappointed them, but I hope they can understand."
Pictured above: Johnson at 2011 Pan Ams; © Scott Heavey / Getty Images