POSTED: Monday, August 18, 2008 - 4:18pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 10:59am
TYLER - Seventeen-year-old Tyler native Alaina Johnson says she was glued to the television Thursday night when Parker, Texas, native Nastia Liukin won the Gold and Shawn Johnson picked up the Silver in the women's all-around individual gymnastics competition.
Johnson, no relation to Shawn, says she was on the edge of her seat during the showdown, especially since the women are her friends, competitors and teammates.
"I compete for that team," said Johnson, referring to USA Gymnastics' team. "They're like my sisters."
One of the best gymnasts in the country, Johnson advanced to the U.S. Olympic Trials in June and barely missed competing in Beijing.
"If we were in most countries, she would have made it," said her coach Martin Parsley. "We are one of the top two teams in the world and have the top two gymnasts in the sport."
Just like the Chinese, Americans start out competing in gymnastics at a young age. In fact, Johnson was just five years old when she started performing at Texas East Gymnastics.
But now Johnson's dream dies.
She's too old to compete when the London Games roll around in 2012.
But she's okay with that.
"I was just as excited to make it as far as i went," said the soft-spoken Johnson. "My main goal was to go to Trials."
For now - she says - her focus is getting a college scholarship.
In addition, she hopes to pass on her dreams to the little gymnasts across East Texas.
So, they too, can perhaps become the Nastia, Shawn or even Alaina.