Former gymnast Shawn Johnson was in tears on “Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars” after re-injuring the knee that prevented her from competing in the Olympics this summer.
But the determined athlete pushed through the pain to turn in a strong cha cha routine with partner Derek Hough for 28 points.
While horsing around with co-star Sabrina Bryan as they prepared for a group country-themed dance this week, Shawn tweaked the left knee that has been giving her problems since she injured it while skiing in 2010. The athlete had to drop her dream of making the U.S. Olympics gymnastics squad this year because of the bum knee.
And Shawn could have been out of “DWTS,” too! She was shown crying in pain and having to quit practicing with Derek in rehearsal footage aired on the show. But on the All-Stars country week, she managed to cha cha like a champ to Kenny Chesney’s song, “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” and told reporters after the show although she’ll have to be careful with the injury, it was only a sprain.
“My knee’s doing okay, it’s getting a little better [but] I think it’s unfortunately something I’m going to have to deal with now for the rest of the season,” Shawn told XfinityTV.com after Monday night’s show. “I think it’s just more emotionally overwhelming than physically painful or demanding. Reliving the whole knee pain kind of brought me back to the Olympics and retiring and everything I had to go through so the idea that it would take me out of this devastated me. I was terrified to even go to the doctor because I didn’t want any bad news. I’ve gone through that too many times!”
Describing the injury that “DWTS” showed in rehearsal footage (of her rolling over Sabrina’s back), Shawn shrugged, “It wasn’t anything big, even. I rolled over and I was wearing tennis shoes and the tennis shoes don’t really slide on the floor so when I sat up I just felt my knee twist. It ended up being only a sprain—I twisted my ligaments too much. I was afraid I’d re-torn something, which is what it felt like, but I didn’t.”
The ex-gymnast, who dazzled in a romantic Titanic-themed dance with Derek last week, said she wouldn’t be disappointed if she had to take out some of the flips and tricks she’s been known for on DWTS. “It’s not a gymnastics competition, it’s a dancing competition,” she said. When Derek interjected that he WON’T be shying away from difficult content, Shawn smiled, “I’m excited to see what he comes up with.”
Meanwhile, Derek is also ailing. His publicist brought him an ice pack to put on his neck while talking to the media on Monday night. “I have had a bulging disc in my vertebrae for a couple of years. I need surgery on it,” he sighed. “When it flares up, as it did today, it sort of immobilizes me. I’m dancing through adrenalin. I’m just going to figure out how to get through it. It’ll be fine!”