KIDSGAZETTE

Meet a famous Iowan: Shawn Johnson

U.S. gymnast Shawn Johnson waves to the crowd during the women's team final competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympics  in
U.S. gymnast Shawn Johnson waves to the crowd during the women's team final competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Wednesday, Aug 13, 2008. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
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Most professional athletes hone their skills over many years, but few start so early as Shawn Johnson.

She was 3 years old when she first started tumbling and a few years later added balance beam and floor exercises, training at Liang Chow’s gymnastics gym in West Des Moines.

Johnson had to wait until age 16 to compete in the Summer Olympics, going to Beijing in 2008. There, she won a gold medal in balance beam and won three silver medals.

Johnson went on to win Dancing with the Stars in 2009. (If you want a peek at her athletic ability and stage presence, YouTube her final freestyle with Mark Ballas.)

Hometown: West Des Moines

Fun fact: At 4-foot-11, Johnson is three inches taller than Simone Biles, who won gymnastics gold at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Comments: erin.jordan@thegazette.com

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