Why Shawn Johnson believes this year's US gymnastics team is the best one yet

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With two Olympics games and four gold and silver Olympic medals under her belt, Shawn Johnson has gained incredible insight into the unique playing ground that is the Olympic Games. She also shares a close bond with the US team competing in Rio this year, claiming that they're more than just friends, they're like family.

The group, which is made up of Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian, brings a level of diversity in a sport that hasn't seen much of it in the past. They're ushering in a brand-new era of the sport. And after watching them practice and compete in order to make trials, Johnson is sure of one thing: this US team is one of the strongest ones yet.

SEE MORE: Everything you need to know about Rio 2016

We recently sat down with the Olympic gold medalist and gymnastics icon to talk about what she foresees for the Rio games, what life was like during her first Olympics, and the incredible level of responsibility that goes along with every Olympic hopeful.

#YouShouldKnow is a feature that showcases rising talents. To see more past interviews, including more Shawn Johnson exclusives, click here.

Happy #OlympicDay ! Will always feel honored to have represented my country 🇺🇸 #2008

A photo posted by Shawn Johnson East (@shawnjohnson) on


Was going to the Olympics always your dream growing up?
Yes! I loved watching the Olympics and I remember watching gymnastics in the olympics and my dream was to wear a red, white, and blue leotard. That was I worked for that leotard with the flag.

What was running through your mind when you first realized you qualified for the Olympics?
It was a breath of fresh air. Being named part of the team is almost a greater achievement than earning a medal because it's that validation that your dream is coming true. It doesn't matter how you do, you made it to the Olympics. So I think my first thought was like, "I could be done now and be happy no matter what." There was a lot of excitement.

I also hear there's a lot of responsibility that goes into it as well.
Yeah! There's a huge responsibility. When you're seated for the Olympics and you're told that you're going and given your apparel and you go through meetings about how you're supposed to compose yourself, the weight and magnitude of what you're doing sets in. You're representing your country. I was 16 years old but I was wearing the red, white, and blue, and I was representing the US. There's a lot of weight that goes into that, not to mention, everyone expects you to come home with medals. There's a lot of responsibility, but it's exciting.

Do you have any insight looking at this year's Olympic team?
Not too much, but I'm really close with the girls and they're like sisters to me. I talk to them all the time as a big sister. I'm so nervous! I want them to do well and I'm excited. I think it's one of the strongest teams we've ever had and I think it's some of the strongest girls we've ever seen in the sport.

You're looking at the 2016 USA OLYMPIC TEAM! CONGRATULATIONS LADIES! #teamusa #sanjose2016

A photo posted by Shawn Johnson East (@shawnjohnson) on

#YouShouldKnow is a feature that showcases talent. To see more past interviews, including more Shawn Johnson exclusives, click here.

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