Winning Balance: The life of a girl with a dream

In her book Winning Balance, Shawn Johnson tells the story of her life as a gymnast, the struggles she faced while trying to finish high school and her career-ending injury.

Johnson is best known for being an Olympic Gold medalist in gymnastics for the U.S. Olympic team. However, in January 2010 Johnson tore her ACL while skiing. An injury that two years later would put her into retirement from the sport she loved.

Johnson wrote her book when she was only 20 years old. While that may seem like she doesn’t have enough to say, Johnson has experienced more in her lifetime than a lot of people do.

As she takes readers on her journey of finding herself the book brings out Johnson’s wit and humour.

Johnson competed in the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing, at just 16-years-old, where she won three silver medals and one gold medal. She believed she would go on to compete in the 2010 summer Olympics and beyond, if her career panned out.

In 2009 Johnson competed on season eight of Dancing with the Stars, she was paired with Mark Ballas and the couple won the season and the mirror ball trophy. However, being on Dancing with the Stars wasn’t always the way that she had hoped it would be.

Johnson was informed by producers, her parents and the police that a man had been stalking her, with intentions to kidnap and kill her. Johnson needed a bodyguard. Ballas, her partner on Dancing with the Stars got very protective of Johnson through the remainder of the show.

After Dancing with the Stars, Johnson attempted to resume a normal life. She went on dates, hung out with friends and worked towards finishing high school. She also still trained to become a better gymnast but an unforeseeable accident stopped her plans.

In January 2010, Johnson and her family went on a ski trip. A decision that would cost Johnson the career she put her heart and soul into. While skiing down a hill Johnson hit a patch of ice, lost control and landed on her knee and heard a pop.

“Finally I stopped sliding and came to a complete stop. I sat there for a while, helpless and silent. It hadn’t really dawned on me that I’d hurt myself. I didn’t yet realize that the pop I heard was a sign that my life was about to change,” Johnson writes.

The pop in her knee was a sign that her life was about to change. Johnson chronicled her recovery from her torn ACL in which she had to have surgery. Many wondered if Johnson would try and earn a spot in the 2012 Olympics and that was her goal. However, on June 3, 2012 Johnson announced her retirement from gymnastics.

“Maybe it didn’t work out the way I wanted, but you know what? That’s okay. It made me stronger, and it brought me back to who I am at my core. In the end, that’s what really matters,” Johnson writes in the final chapter of her book.

Shawn Johnson takes readers on an inspiring journey. Winning Balance is a riveting book that captures the heart.

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Reba Pennell is a second-year journalism student at Durham College. When it comes to reporting, she enjoys covering a wide variety of events and stories. She likes to spend her spare time reading, working on her novel and hanging out with friends and family. Reba hopes to work in a newspaper setting following graduation.