Olympian makes 'hardest decision ever'
03:36 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Shawn Johnson won four Olympic medals and a season of "Dancing with the Stars"

She is retiring at 20 because of recurring knee problems

"It was definitely one of the hardest decisions I've ever made," Johnson says

CNN  — 

Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, who announced over the weekend she would retire because of recurring knee problems, said Monday the decision was one of the hardest of her life and that she thinks its impact hasn’t truly hit her.

“Having that period of my life over with is surreal. I don’t think it’s settled in yet. It just came to a point where my body couldn’t take anymore and kept telling me I had to face the science,” she told CNN’s Erin Burnett.

“It was definitely one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made,” she said.

Johnson, 20, won one gold and three silver medals during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. She also won a season of “Dancing with the Stars,” waltzing her way into the hearts of millions of American fans.

Even though she won’t be able to compete at the Olympics this year, Johnson told Burnett she still plans to go to London to cheer on her teammates.

“If I can’t be on the podium competing, I’ll be in the stands cheering my head off for them,” she said.

Asked by Burnett what she plans to do next, Johnson said she will take a year off and then hopefully start college.

“I’ve had that on my list ever since I was little and my parents are going to make sure that happens,” said Johnson.

“As for career, I have no idea. I don’t even know what I’m going to be doing tomorrow right now because my plans have changed a little bit, but I’m excited to see what opportunities are going to arise.”