CHICAGO — Shawn Johnson was standing in the hotel lobby, waiting for a ride to training, when she felt a familiar rush of excitement and adrenaline.

Just like that, the last three years faded away and Johnson says she finally felt like "the girl from Beijing" again. The shredded knee, the thousands of agonizing hours in the gym, the doubts — none of it mattered any longer.

Johnson returns to competition Saturday night for the first time since winning four medals at the Beijing Olympics, including gold on the balance beam. She's trying to keep expectations realistic. But this is one more step on her journey to the London Olympics, a destination she feared was out of reach not that long ago.