Shawn Johnson on Being 'DWTS' Frontrunner


Dancing with the Stars
is set for what is shaping up to be one of its most competitive seasons as former contestants square off in an "All-Stars" spectacular. As everyone sizes up the competition, former Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson is being tagged as one of the favorites to win, and as she told ET, she's ready for the challenge.

"It makes me excited," Johnson said of being the frontrunner on the dancing competition show. "It motivates me. I'm a competitor, so I want to live up to the hype."

VIDEO: 'DWTS: All Stars' Cast Announced!

Johnson's success on Dancing's eighth season that earned her a Mirrorball Trophy may have her favored for another trophy, but the upcoming All-Stars season will include fellow previous winners, which her partner, Derek Hough, says will cause them to elevate their dancing.

"I feel like everybody has expectations," said Hough, who has won the competition with current co-host Brooke Burke, singer Nicole Scherzinger, and actress Jennifer Grey. "Everybody has a standard that they sort of have to order to compete in this field."

VIDEO: 'DWTS' Hosts Predict the Most Intense Season Yet

Although the show will feature the most talented and experienced cast in its fifteen seasons, Hough pointed out that it's more of a celebration than a fierce competition because all of the cast members have already been on the show once before.

"It's an All-Star season and, essentially, it's a celebration of fan-favorites and the best [dancers], so I feel like that [will] keep the pressure off a little bit," he said. "You've already experienced it once, so just have a blast with it...It'll be competitive but I feel like it's more of a celebration."

VIDEO: Shawn Johnson Appraises Olympians on 'DWTS'

While Johnson was unable to compete in this year's Olympic Games in London due to the lingering effects of a knee injury, she has a strong connection to this year's USA Women's Gymnastics team and sent her congratulations along to the gold-medal team and all-around gold medalist Gabby Douglas.

"Gabby's my teammate; she trains in Iowa with me, and watching her was like watching my little sister," the 20-year-old gymnast said. "I was so proud to see the progress she's made over the past couple years...She's worked really hard for it; she sacrificed a lot as well, so she deserved it."

VIDEO: Shawn Johnson Reacts to 'Extremely Shocking' Win

Watch Shawn Johnson as she begins her journey to win a second Mirrorball Trophy on Dancing with the Stars beginning September 24 on ABC.