Two stars of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games are athletes of very different backgrounds, but Gayle says they have the same winning charm and charisma. Shawn Johnson, the gold medal-winning gymnast from Iowa, and superstar Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant talk with Gayle about their Olympic experiences and bringing home the gold.
Sixteen-year-old Shawn has been a gymnast since she was a little girl, but she only became very serious about the sport as a teenager. "I loved it from the beginning, but I never thought I could go anywhere and become something," she says. "I just worked for it and progressed over the years, but probably when I turned 12 or 13 even, I thought I could get to the highest level."
In Beijing, Shawn captivated audiences as the women's balance beam gold medalist and silver medalist in the individual all-around, floor exercise and team competitions. She often shared the winner's podium with her teammate and friend Nastia Liukin. "It can be a little harder competing with one of your really good friends, but in a way it is easier just because you are both representing the USA and you look at it as a double chance to get that gold and represent your country the best you can," she says.
Kobe Bryant is no stranger to the spotlight, but he says playing basketball for Team USA™ was a special experience—especially when the national anthem was played after the team won a gold medal. "When you hear it and you have the USA uniform on it, it is a completely different sound," he says. Kobe's celebrity in China was also a bit overwhelming—he was followed by fans and media nearly everywhere he went. "It caught me by surprise to say the least, but it is a tremendous honor to feel that kind of reaction and appreciation for what you do," he says.
While Kobe was surrounded by fans in China, he made sure to cheer on one of his favorite Olympic athletes—swimmer Michael Phelps. "There was no way we were going to miss Michael Phelps winning those gold medals … it was unbelievable."
Printed from Oprah.com on Wednesday, March 12, 2014