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Shawn Johnson Injury: Olympic Medalist Hurts Knee Skiing In Colorado

LUKE MEREDITH   02/22/10 02:52 PM ET   AP

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson will be in a leg brace for six weeks and her training will be limited for six months after surgery on her left knee following a ski accident in Colorado.

Johnson's agent, Sheryl Shade, said Monday that Johnson tore her left ACL last month during a family vacation. Johnson has begun physical therapy.

"For six months, it means she won't be doing her toughest tumbling and things like that, but she will be getting strong as things go on," Shade said.

Johnson, who won a gold and three silver medals in the 2008 Beijing Games, was on a vacation to celebrate her 18th birthday. She wrote about the injury on a blog posted Sunday to her Web site.

"The one thing that scared me the most when this happened was the possibility I could not return to gymnastics even if I wanted do," Johnson said. "Up until now, I've always had that option, so I've always been comfortable. The thought that option might be gone killed me!"

Johnson wrote that she managed to "tough out the rest of her trip and still have a blast" before returning home to Iowa and seeing a doctor. She had surgery Feb. 16.

"For a girl who has never really had an injury before, this came at me like a brick wall," Johnson said.

Since the 2008 Olympics, Johnson has appeared on the television show "Dancing With the Stars" and other programs, and she won the Sullivan Award, given to the country's top amateur athlete. She returned to her gym in West Des Moines in December but has not announced whether she plans to compete at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Johnson said she went from the doctor's office to meet her coach, Liang Chow.

"He told me to look at it as a blessing. I have been stumbling this past year and a half, piled with work and busy with travel – struggling to figure out what it is I want to do with my life and if I want to continue with gymnastics," she wrote. Johnson said Chow's advice was "music to my ears" but it will mean hard work.

"He did say it will be much more difficult – not just mentally, but physically as well – to come back to the sport after an injury," she wrote.

Johnson said she's not ready to make a decision on her future in gymnastics.

"Again, I'm not committing to a comeback of any sort, but I have set up with Chow that gymnastics will definitely be a part of my recovery. It's a great way to get back in shape and to start figuring things out, along with rehabbing my knee," she wrote.

Shade, Johnson's agent, characterized the injury as minor.

"The original diagnosis was if a person had walked in there and done this it would probably heal on its own over time and you wouldn't have surgery," Shade said. "But because of the potential that she might do gymnastics and compete again, you need to have this surgery so her knee would be strong enough."

Johnson wrote that she knows the next six months won't be easy.

"I have no regrets about going skiing, because I was having the time of my life, and I have nothing but positive thoughts going into recovery," she wrote. "Life is crazy, unexpected and unpredictable."

___

Associated Press writer Melanie S. Welte contributed to this report.

On the Net:

http://www.shawnjohnson.net

(This version CORRECTS games to 2008 sted 'last summer.')

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Filed by Ethan Axelrod  |