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Shawn Johnson, a 16-year-old gymnast from West Des Moines, Iowa, went to Beijing to prove once and for all that big things come in small packages. At just 4'9'', Shawn packs a lot of power into her petite frame. She used her strength and determination to win four medals in her first Olympic Games.

This high school junior took home the gold for her individual beam routine, a silver team medal, a silver in the individual all-around competition and a silver for her floor exercise routine. She twisted and flipped her way to the top, but at the beginning of her gymnastics career, some doubted her skills.

At age 3, Shawn's parents enrolled her in her first gymnastics class. She loved the sport, but her coach didn't see much potential. Then she met her second coach, Liang Chow, a former Chinese gymnast who saw a future superstar.

From day one, Shawn's parents supported her dream of becoming an Olympian. They even mortgaged their home three times to pay for training.

Years later, the family's sacrifices finally paid off!
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FROM: Season Premiere: Welcome Home Team USA's Olympic Stars!
Published on September 08, 2008

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