Back in 1979, Disney featured a series of educational short films titled “The Truly Exceptional”. Among these was Lefty, a documentary featuring a champion gymnast named Carol Johnston. Known as the “One-Armed Gymnast” Johnson was born without a right arm below her elbow. Growing up in Calgary, Alberta she fell in love with gymnastics at the age of 12 and by the time she was 17 she was performing in the Canada Winter Games before competing at the Junior Olympics in Montreal.
Johnston attended California State University and from 1977-1980 she competed for the Titans—earning All-American status twice on beam and floor and winning a conference championship on beam in 1977. Unfortunately, Johnston’s determination to win gold in the 1979 NCAA tournament led her to overtrain and, consequently, she tore her ACL. This injury effectively ended her career.
Johnston has stated numerous times that her drive is due to her disability, and her drive is one of inspiration to many. She was the subject of Pete Donovan’s book, Carol Johnston: One-Armed Gymnast. The movie Lefty has not been released on DVD but it can be viewed on YouTube in its entirety.