Canoe/Kayak

Unstoppable: The Carrie Johnson Story

Nov. 20, 2008, 9:06 a.m. (ET)

Typically, Olympic athletes face many obstacles. Time away from family, nagging injuries, and the financial sacrifices of dedicating so much time to training can all take a toll. But leading up to the 2004 Olympics, kayaker Carrie Johnson faced a much greater hurdle: she was diagnosed with Crohn's disease.

While training for the Athens Olympic Games, Carrie began suffering from extreme fatigue, severe weight loss and anemia. At first her doctors didn't know what was wrong with her. She was forced to watch, sitting in the boat while her teammates continued to train. But being forced to take a break from training right before the biggest opportunity of her career helped Carrie realize how badly she wanted to succeed.

Fortunately, Carrie was diagnosed and her doctors were able to help her get her condition under control. She went on to compete at the Olympics and finish in tenth place, the highest finish for a U.S. kayaker. Since then, Carrie has learned how to manage her Crohn’s while maintaining an active training regimen.

In 2007, Carrie had her best year yet, winning the Kayaking World Cup and placing fifth in the world championships. She was the first U.S. kayaker to qualify for the 2008 Olympics, and the only one to compete in the k-1 500-meter race.

Traveling to the other side of the world to compete in Beijing while managing the occasional flare-up might sound like a lot to handle, but not for Carrie. Through her strength and determination, she remained focused on her goal.

Carrie is a proud advocate for people living with Crohn's. She wants them to know that they don't have to be embarrassed by the disease and that they are not alone. Her determination and continued success are a reminder that nothing should ever stop you from reaching for your dreams.

Click here to view her video at the Crohn's & Me website click here>>

To view Carrie Johnson's athlete bio click here>>

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