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Shawn Johnson East talks about Angel City football club and the role of gymnastics in a changing world

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Shawn Johnson East:

Shawn Johnson East at Angel City Soccer Club

Johnson East hopes to bring one of its latest ventures into North American women’s soccer under ownership of Angel City Football Club alongside such Jennifer Garner, Natalie Portmanand Serena Williams – can help to be part of that support.

“I think with Angel City they’re making a difference by bringing together some of the biggest voices in the world like athletes, entrepreneurs, businessmen and women, and all these people stand together saying, ‘We’ can’t take anything anymore. We will help every athlete in the world have a voice.”

Gymnastics itself has been part of this movement in recent years, with hundreds of women coming forward to speak their truth in the wake of abuse revelations by former USA team doctor Larry Nassar and Simone Biles, shedding light on the importance of mental health and speaking for himself at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in 2021.

“I would say, coming from gymnastics, I think gymnastics is one of those sports that has had a voice in the world of change lately… Seeing how in the last five years gymnasts have been able to stand up and have a voice and really make an impact around the world and saying: I am human. I have a voice and I am able to stand up for myself and make a difference for other people. I think it was a huge kind of inspiration, a launching pad for Angel City,” she said.

This is Johnson East’s opportunity to come full circle: from one-time teenage Olympic gold medalist balancing outside pressure and love for her sport, to part of the solution that will make young athletes feel powerful, important and valued.

“[Athletes today are] really just … whether they’re successful in sports at all or not, they just show that there are so many people on such a huge stage who will stand behind you for what you think is right,” she said. “And I think before Angel City, before gymnastics, people felt very lonely and isolated in their voice and thought, ‘I don’t have a voice big enough to say this is wrong.’

“Now they’re just gathering a tribe, a whole army of people behind them, which is cool,” Johnson East concluded.

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