Shawn Johnson is a fierce competitor. She didn't bust her butt for years in hopes of bringing back silver to Iowa. She wanted gold, and as the world champion, carried the burden of "favorite".
Shawn, as we all know, finished second in the all-around to her friend and rival, Nastia Liuken. When it was over, we saw Shawn fight back tears. I'm sure some of it was disappointment, but I think a lot of emotion was relief. Can you imagine the pressure? I really can't, and I played a lot of sports. She's in a whole other world, one most of us can't relate to.
Like so many people in Iowa, I was nervous watching Shawn compete in a sport so unforgiving of the slightest mistake; a sport, in the end, left in the hands of judges.
I think the judges scored Nastia and Shawn too low, especially Shawn. They seemed to favor the ballerina type gymnast over Shawn's athletic tumbling, which is too bad. Who do you think projects a healthier body image for impressionable young girls: Shawn, or the Chinese gymnasts who look like they haven't eaten in months?
In the end, the judges, thankfully, got it right anyway. Shawn usually beats Nastia, but at the Olympics, Nastia was a little better. As an Iowan, heck as an American, I'm just proud of the way Shawn left it all out there, and delivered the floor routine of her life when she needed it most. One mistake and China gets the Silver. That was clutch.
I also loved the way Shawn handled her disappointment with class, grace, and sportsmanship. A lot of much older athletes could learn a thing or two by watching Shawn, and many other Olympians. We've seen a lot of athletes at their best.
I hope Shawn wins gold in one of the individual events, but whatever happens, she's represented us in world class fashion. I know I sound corny, but I couldn't be more sincere. (To write a note for Shawn, visit our hot topic blog. We'll forward your comments to Shawn in a few days.)
I wondered if the way the Olympics made me feel as a kid would happen again. These games have done it. Don't you feel a little more patriotic? A little better about the world? A lot better about elite athletes?
You know when Kobe Bryant is in awe of Michael Phelps, you're watching something special. Phelps is unreal. I still can't believe he found a way to win the 100 fly! I've never seen a more unlikely outcome with one meter to go. Phelps is Houdini in a Speedo.
Also loved the Costas interview with Phelps and Mark Spitz. Can Costas just start doing all the interviews for NBC? Seems like a good idea.
Next up: Lolo!