Artistic Gymnastics

Shawn Johnson, pregnant with second child, opens up about Covid-19 diagnosis

Plus, tributes to U.S. champ Dianne Durham, hear from the woman behind Nia Dennis' viral routine, Olympic champ Krisztian Berki retires, and we take a look back at Ukraine from Atlanta 1996 in our weekly gymnastics recap

By Scott Bregman ·

2008 Olympic balance beam champion Shawn Johnson disclosed in an Instagram story that she has tested positive for Covid-19 while also being pregnant.

“Got my results back today and they came back positive for Covid,” Johnson wrote on the story post. “So far, I have a cough, terrible sore throat, and headache. Fatigue for sure but…. That’s pregnancy.”

Johnson, who in addition to balance beam gold won team, all-around, and floor exercise silvers at Beijing 2008, outlined her biggest concerns dealing with the coronavirus.

“1: I don’t want my family to get sick. 2: I have asthma and have had it my entire life so this scares me a little extra. 3: had a very close family member fight for his life last month while battling Covid so it’s a serious topic of concern/hits home in our household.”

The 29-year-old, who now vlogs about her life with husband Andrew East on YouTube, says she’s not looking for sympathy.

“Not looking for any kind of pity party,” Johnson wrote toward the end of her post. “Just a reminder to take care of yourself. Drink an extra water tonight and wash your hands :)”

Tributes to 1983 U.S. champion Dianne Durham pour in

Dianne Durham, the first Black woman to win a U.S. title, passed away Thursday, according to multiple news reports.

Durham, 52, was the 1983 U.S. all-around champion and seemed destined for the 1984 Olympic Games until injuries derailed her chances.

“I think she’d come to terms with it," said husband Tom Drahozal, according to the Associated Press. She was doing professional shows [when we met in 1992]. But she had told me, ‘It was what it was, I can’t go back and redo it again.’”

Tributes to the woman who nearly swept the event titles at those 1983 U.S. nationals have poured in, including from 1984 Olympic silver medallist and gymnastics commentator Kathy Johnson Clarke.

"There aren't words special enough to describe Dianne Durham and what she meant to gymnastics or to those of us who loved, admired and respected her or got the biggest kick out of her spirited humor and unparalleled spunkiness!," Clarke wrote on Twitter.

Nia Dennis’ choreographer: “She just loves to dance like that so we thought it would be fun.”

B.J. Das, the woman behind the viral sensation that is Nia Dennis’ floor routine, doesn’t come from a strictly gymnastics background.

Instead, the volunteer assistant coach at the University of California at Los Angeles brings with her experience as a commercial dancer and choreographer, having worked with the likes of Beyonce, Pink, and Avril Lavigne.

That background helped her craft Dennis’ viral routine, but in an interview with the New York Times, Das says that wasn’t that intent going in.

“I always think of it in a smaller way: How I can change each athlete for the better and how I can change the program for the better?” said Das. “But in seeing how Nia’s routine has impacted people, I realized that maybe there’s a bigger purpose for me with all of this and it’s beyond getting good scores and putting cool moves out there.”

“She just loves to dance like that so we thought it would be fun,” says Das.

Olympic pommel horse champion Krisztián Berki announces retirement

Hungarian gymnast Krisztián Berki, who won pommel horse Olympic gold at London 2012, announced his retirement Thursday during a press conference. Berki, 35, will now serve as the Sports Director for the Hungarian Gymnastics Federation.

“Time to hang it up…” wrote Berki in a post on Instagram.

In addition to Olympic gold, Berki owns three World titles on the pommel horse, the most recent in 2014. Though Berki did not compete at Rio 2016, he did return to competition at the 2017 European Championships where he claimed a silver medal on his signature event. In total, Berki won one Olympic medal, five World medals, and nine European medals.

Hungarian Berki wins thrilling Pommel horse gold | London 2012 Replays

Krisztian Berki of Hungary edges out Great Britain's Louis Smith by the nar...

From the vault…

This week, we head back to Atlanta 1996 and the Ukrainian women on the floor exercise.

Though their star – and eventual Olympic all-around champion – Lilia Podkopayeva lead the rotation with a 9.762, she had plenty of support from her teammates including Lyubov Sheremeta, who added a 9.750, and Anna Mirgorodskaya, who posted a 9.712. Overall, Ukraine finished fifth in the team standings.

Team Ukraine performs floor routine in team event at Atlanta 1996 Olympics

The Ukrainian women compete on the floor exercise during the team final at ...