No worlds, but Johnson still eyeing London

September, 22, 2011
9/22/11
5:38
PM ET

Shawn Johnson won a gold medal and three silvers at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Her photo adorned cereal boxes on American breakfast tables. She led the Wrigley Field crowd in singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." And she reached the highest level of fame possible for an athlete in our modern society by winning "Dancing with the Stars" in 2009.

But barring injury to another gymnast, Johnson won't be going to the world gymnastics championships in Tokyo early next month. Instead, she was named as a non-traveling alternate to the U.S. team. Johnson said she is not disappointed she didn't make the competing squad, nor does she feel her fame makes that any more difficult to handle.

"Honestly, you can't let it affect you," she said Thursday on a teleconference call with the U.S. team. "I didn't come back to gymnastic for any other reasons but I love it and I missed it."

Johnson was named to the U.S. team that will compete in the Pan Am Games at the end of October in Guadalajara, Mexico. Alicia Sacramone, Aly Raisman, U.S. champion Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney, Anna Li, Gabrielle Douglas and Sabrina Vega will go to Tokyo.

Martha Karolyi, the national women's team coordinator, said Johnson's training was limited due to her 2010 ACL injury, but she could be a strong component for next summer's Olympic team if she continues to progress.

"Actually, my knee is doing really good," Johnson said. "I'm putting in more numbers each week and month and the numbers are going up. Knock on wood, it's been really good. ... I think there's always room for improvement. There's still a long way to go. I need to go home and work hard. It's about putting in the hours and going through the paces.

"I've had a lot of progress in the last year," Johnson added. "I wasn't the best pick, but I'm here if they need me."


Jim Caple | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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