Shawn Johnson East won four Olympic medals from the Beijing Games in 2008, but only one of them was gold.
On the final day of competition, Johnson East won gold on balance beam after finishing second to teammate Nastia Liukin in the highly anticipated all-around final.
“My coach had taught me from day one that it should never be about the prize, it should never be about the medal or the color. It should be pretty much how you you feel,” Johnson East told Kelley O’Hara on the latest episode of The Players’ Pod.
After giving what she believed to be her maximum effort, Johnson East held her head high after the all-around.
“With the all-around…I felt like I gave my absolute best performance, the best I could have ever done, and I really felt like I won the money,” says- she.
The press, however, plagued Johnson East with questions about what she could have done differently in the loss to Liukin, making her doubt her accomplishment.
“I gave it my all and that was my best performance and I won the silver medal, and I felt emotionally confused by the response from the world,” Johnson said.
At the time of her beam routine, Johnson East expected her coach to do what he always does after a competition and ask her how she felt about her performance. This time they didn’t exchange words.
“We both knew it wasn’t my best performance, and I distinctly remember turning and looking at the scoreboard and there was a number one by my name for gold, and we got together. just watched and started laughing,” Johnson East recalls.
“In a way, the silver was more fulfilling because I knew it was my best. And the beam, the gold medal, it was amazing to win for the United States, that’s why I’m felt proud, but it wasn’t my best.
Listen to the full episode of The Players’ Pod for more from O’Hara and Johnson East on the gymnast’s iconic career.