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Spotlight on Carrie (USA)

An Olympian Shows Crohn's Who's Boss

Typically, Olympic athletes face many obstacles. But leading up to the 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 with Crohn's disease and her doctors were able to help her gain control over the disease. 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 K1 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 stop you from reaching for your dreams.

More patient stories

Go to the website Crohn's and Me for more Crohn's disease patient testimonials.


There's a mental aspect to sports and a mental aspect to dealing with Crohn's disease. You have to stay positive and you can't focus on the illness. You have to focus on living your life.