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When a nagging knee injury forced Shawn Johnson to announce her retirement from gymnastics on June 3, it meant closing the door on her dreams of an Olympic comeback in London. But it also opened the door for her to do other things like, say, compete on the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars.
Not surprisingly, the 20-year-old -- who won the gold medal on the balance beam and silver medals in the individual all-around, team competition and floor exercise at the 2008 Beijing Olympics -- says it wasn't long before her phone was ringing with opportunities.
"[The Dancing with the Stars producers] called the day I retired," Johnson told iVillage's Kelly Wallace exclusively when they chatted at the London Games, where Shawn is acting as a Today.com special correspondent.
But even though Johnson and Mark Ballas had won season 8 of DWTS back in 2009, Shawn didn't immediately jump at the idea of mounting a comeback on the dance floor rather than the balance beam.
"It was a really hard decision for me to make, I wanted to say yes right away but there was so much going on, I didn't know if it would be a right fit, if I was mentally ready for it and with everything going on," she admitted.
In the end, however, Johnson decided that going after the DWTS mirror-ball trophy a second time might be just what the doctor ordered. "I thought it would be a fun way to transition into a new phase in my life and try to get away from all this [gymnastics] for a little bit," she said.
Plus, it'll give her a shot at that comeback she was striving for. "I didn't really get to finish out the competition and the comeback of [my gymnastics] career, but maybe I could do it on DWTS," she said. "I don't know. It'll just be a good breath of fresh air for me to have some fun."
Johnson isn't without her share of nerves, however -- admitting that she finds going up against past DWTS standouts, like Olympic speed skating champion Apolo Anton Ohno and former NFL player Emmitt Smith, quite daunting.
"It's going to be hard, and there are so many good dancers," she mused. "I'm so excited, I'm terrified, it's a whole new world."
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