Born March 10, 1958 in Calgary
, Carol Johnston became one of the more unique gymnast
s to earn fame in the late 1970s. Born with an intact left arm but just half her right arm, Johnston originally wanted to become a figure skater
was encouraged to take gymnastics
classes to help strengthen her legs. She began training at the relatively old age of twelve - most champion
gymnasts begin much younger - but showed great talent in the sport.
After competing in the 1976 Junior Olympics in Montréal, Johnston enrolled at the Fullerton campus of California State University. In her freshman year she became the balance beam champion in the Big West conference, and joined her teammates in Seattle for the NCAA Championships in her sophomore year, where she took second on beam and floor exercise and earned All-American honors.
In 1978, Johnston gained national fame when NBC featured her on an episode of the show "Real People." Shortly thereafter, the Walt Disney company produced a documentary titled "Lefty" detailing Johnston's 1978-1979 NCAA season. She injured her right knee while training for a meet against UCLA, but after it healed returned to training. Unfortunately, not long after that she landed poorly and reinjured the knee, and this time doctors warned her that another bad landing might keep her from walking again, and so Johnston quit competitive gymnastics and became a coach for young children instead.
Johnston graduated from Fullerton in 1981, and in 1982 was the subject of Pete Donovan's book Carol Johnston: The One-Armed Gymnast. She returned to Cal State for her graduate work, and in 1988 received a Master's degree in physical education with a specialization in sports psychology. Today she lives in California.