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Gold medal gymnast Shawn Johnson discusses 'incredible' feeling of representing USA in Olympics

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It's been 16 years since Shawn Johnson, then just a 4-foot-11, 16-year-old, won the hearts of Americans by winning gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Johnson was the gold medalist on the balance beam and earned three silvers in the floor, all-around (losing to teammate Nastia Liukin) and team events (Liukin also won silver in the balance beam).

It was the only Olympic Games Johnson would compete in. She tore her ACL skiing in 2010 and retired from the sport amid a comeback for the 2012 games. However, she lived out the moment she "dreamt of my whole life."


Shawn Johnson celebrates her gold medal on the balance beam during the gymnastics apparatus finals at the National Indoor Stadium during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.  (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Johnson earned the rare opportunity to represent the United States; wear the red, white, and blue; and hear her country's national anthem with Olympic gold draped around her neck.

"It was the greatest honor of my life at the time," Johnson said in a recent interview with Fox News Digital, adding that having children has trumped that experience.

"Being able to wear the red, white and blue, seeing the flag be lowered, hearing the anthem, put your hand over your chest. It was this moment I had dreamt of my whole life. And being able to do that not just for myself, but for my coaches and my team and our country, it was a really special moment. It felt very special."

Shawn Johnson, left, and Nastia Liukin of the U.S. stand on the podium after the women's balance beam final of the artistic gymnastics event of the Beijing 2008 Olympic