Rookie Gymnast Vaults Her Rep

Shawn Johnson steals the spotlight
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Aug 18, 2007 12:53 PM CDT
Shawn Johnson, right, is hugged by her coach, Liang Chow, left, after competing in the floor exercise at the U.S. gymnastics championships in San Jose, Calif., Thursday, August 16, 2007. (AP Photo/Marcio...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – The USA Gymnastics team is rolling out a new megastar for Beijiing 2008: Shawn Johnson, a 4'10" 15-year-old who's been racking up gold medals at national and international championships even while finishing high school. But Johnson has only been on the national team for 10 months, and she's still getting used to being in the spotlight, the Washington Post reports.

"I guess I'm still not sure what it's like to be famous," says Johnson, who's currently posed to win the US nationals in San Jose after a flawless performance Thursday. Johnson's most difficult balancing act remains living up to the hype already surrounding her Olympic bid—scorekeepers are already referring to her as a team leader—and keeping up a social life at home in Des Moines.