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Johnson Aiming To Take On The World
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Featured on the April 2007 cover of IG, recently crowned American Cup champion Shawn Johnson is preparing for her first U.S. Senior Championships and what she calls "the big one" - September's World Championships.

The 15-year-old Johnson, who is in her first year of eligibility for senior competition, won the American Cup last month in Jacksonville. She won the all-around title and led the U.S. team to victory over Great Britain at a dual meet held in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, held March 17-18.

Johnson said she has been working to correct mistakes she made at the American Cup, including a vault error in the preliminary round and a fall from balance beam in the finals.

"I don't really know what it was," Johnson said of the fall on her series (switch leap, layout, whip). "It was one of those freak things that happens and something I couldn't fix, but I'll get it next time."

Johnson said she has watched videos of her American Cup routines "multiple times" and was otherwise pleased with her efforts.

"I thought I performed really well, first of all for my first senior meet and also for my first meet that was televised," she said. "I know there are a few errors and mistakes I can work on and fix. But other than that, it was a good start, and I can only get better."

Johnson is also enjoying the media attention and fan support she has gained since her American Cup victory.

"I don't think people treat me any differently," she said. "I'm the same Shawn Johnson. I like all the fans and the little letters I get. I take one thing at a time and enjoy every bit of it."

Johnson is now preparing for three major competitions: the Pan American Games (July 22-30 in Rio de Janeiro), the U.S. Championships (Aug. 15-18 in San Jose), and the World Championships (Sept. 1-9 in Stuttgart). Worlds are "the big one," she said.

"That's our main goal," said Johnson, who trains under coaches Chow Liang and Liwen Zhuang at Chow's Gymnastics and Dance Institute in West Des Moines, Iowa. "The American Cup and Pan Ams are basically getting experience for that meet."

Although Johnson has yet to compete against most of the world's best senior gymnasts, she is confident in her ability to transition from the junior ranks. She won the U.S. junior title last year with a score that was 0.40 higher than that of senior champion Nastia Liukin.

"I feel I stand pretty well," Johnson said, "but nothing's sure and everything changes every day. It's going to take day after day of hard work like I have been doing, and even 150% every day. Hopefully if I just try my hardest, it will be enough."

Videos offer Johnson's coaches the opportunity to gauge Johnson's prospects against the senior international rivals she is likely to face this year, she said.

"I don't (watch videos of others) very often, but my coaches do it a lot," Johnson said. "Every once in a while they might tell me to look at the (2006) World Championships videos. I just focus on what I'm doing, and I know that my coaches are doing the best for me."

Johnson said she plans to enjoy the Easter holiday weekend with her parents, although she is training her normal schedule. She worked out on Friday, and will also train on Saturday. Sunday is her usual day off from training.

"We normally have a big Easter breakfast and the Easter bunny comes," she said, laughing. "I get a treat once in a while! But other than that, we just spend time with each other."

- John Crumlish

Shawn Johnson is featured in the following issues of International Gymnast magazine:

April 2007 - cover photo, American Cup coverage
November 2006 - "A Taste of China" (Johnson/Chow's profile)
October 2006 - Johnson on cover, Johnson poster, U.S. Championships coverage
January/February 2006 - Johnson "Kids Klub Shooting Star" profile
October 2005 - U.S. Junior Championships photo gallery, including Johnson

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