Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Carrie Returns after Marching in Closing Ceremonies

Carrie is back in the States after a memorable weekend in Beijing. She stayed in the Olympic Village where she enjoyed the 24 hour cafeteria and mingled with the other athletes. Carrie and her kayaking partner, Maggie Hogan, watched some of the events from the Bird’s Nest and sat in the audience of the platform diving finals.

The girls also did some sight seeing – they visited a Buddhist and Confusist temple and a silk market.

But the highlight of weekend was participating in the closing ceremonies. “The closing ceremonies were amazing,” she said. “It was a rush to walk out into the stadium with the other U.S. athletes. It was cool to see the other people I know from the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista.”

Carrie also saw some familiar faces on the plane ride home. “A lot of athletes were on the flight and so was Vince Vaughn. He was very nice,” she said.

Carrie won’t be home for long. She is about to head to Europe to spend time with her boyfriend, a Kayaker on the national Swiss team. After Switzerland Carrie will head to Portugal for an event hosted by her kayak sponsor and then it’s back to school.

For more of Carrie's story click here or check out this site. For additional information contact Christine Clark @ ceclark@ucsd.edu or 858-534-7618.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Carrie Finishes Strong in Semifinal

Carrie came very close to finishing in the top three of the semifinals, but came in fourth place in 1:53.721. She was behind South Africa’s Jennifer Hodson by only a half of a second. Inna Osypenko-Radomska of Ukraine came in first and Lucy Wainwright of Great Britain took second place.

Carrie won’t be advancing to the finals, but she predicted that the semi wouldn’t be easy. “The semi is going to be a very tight race,” she said a few hours before the competition. In a message to her mother, Sally Johnson, after the race, Carrie said she felt optimistic. Sally commented “we are very proud of her to have made it as far as she did and we are especially proud of her for her positive attitude.”

Carrie will participate in the closing ceremonies and will take in the sights and sounds of the Olympic Village this weekend.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Carrie Makes it Into the Semifinals!!

Carrie had a strong showing today. She finished fourth in her 500-meter kayak single heat in 1:50.221 which put her in the semifinals. Her teammate Rami Zur also moved into the semifinals, finishing third in the men's 500-meter kayak single in 1:39.037.

Josefa Idem of Italy came in first and trailing behind her was Hongyan Zhong of China followed by Lucy Wainwright of Great Britain. Carrie will compete in the semifinals at 4:20 p.m. on Thursday. Check back for updates.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Carrie's Competitions Kick Off Tomorrow!

Carrie Johnson’s first race is tomorrow at 4:40 p.m. and she will compete in the Women’s K1 500 m. She is mentally prepping for the race by not getting too excited and concentrating on what she needs to have a great performance. “I went out on the course this morning and paddled down my lane and went through my race plan,” she said.

It was difficult for Carrie to not get too enthusiastic after experiencing the Olympic Village Friday. “The village is very nice,” she said. “It is well organized and put together. There was a great attention to detail.”

Carrie has had the opportunity to watch some familiar faces compete during the Olympics. “I was very excited for the rowers,” she said “They finished last night. Many of them have trained in Chula Vista, so I have known them for the past couple years.” She added that she enjoyed watching the gymnastics and swimming competitions. “We have been following what we can on the TV here; it was exciting to see Phelps win his eight gold metals.”

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Carrie Touches Down in Beijing

Carrie and her team flew in to Beijing Friday and immediately after she landed Carrie went from the airport to the Olympic Village. By Saturday Carrie left the Village and got settled in her hotel near the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park, which is 45 minutes outside of Beijing. Although some of the USA Canoe / Kayak team members got to do some site-seeing, Carrie has been focusing on the Games.

For the next few days Carrie’s time will either be spent on the water or at the hotel. Kayaking competitions start tomorrow afternoon at 3:30, but Carrie doesn't compete until Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Beijing Bound

Carrie is heading to Beijing tomorrow and she’s trying to focus on what she needs to do to perform at her best.

This is Carrie’s second Olympic experience and training in Japan helped her avoid the pre-competition jitters. “This year I have been a little more relaxed leading up to the races,” she said. “We didn't go to the opening ceremonies and have stayed out of the craziness of the games so far. I am feeling more rested and sharp on the water.”

In Komatsu, The local Kayak Federation held a banquet for the USA Kayak/Canoe Team on Tuesday. The team was treated to traditional food and entertainment. Japanese drummers performed for the team, and the girls on the Japanese team gave Carrie and her training partner, Maggie Hogan, each a Kimono.

The team has been joined by their chiropractor, Dr. Wells and Cliff Midol, their team leader and they’re all eager to go to Beijing. “I think it will feel more like a competition when we get to Beijing and the race venue,” Carrie said.

Carrie is not overly concerned with the air quality. “It should be fine at Shunyi, where our venue is,” she said. “If there is a problem with the air it will be something everyone has to deal with.”

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Carrie and Team Watch Opening Ceremonies from Afar

Carrie had a chance to e-mail her parents from Japan Saturday morning and she told them she watched the opening ceremonies at her hotel with members of the French, Belgium and Japanese Olympic kayak teams. She said she was impressed with the lavish opening ceremonies and was feeling optimistic about the games. Carrie won’t fly into Beijing until Thursday, but the frenzied environment of the games will certainly be a transition from Komatsu.

Carrie and her teammates will have to focus on their performance -- they’ll be racing at the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park. The facility is huge, seating about 37,000 people. It has over 6 square miles of water and more than 27,000 seats have already been sold. Carrie’s competitions, which kick off Tuesday, will definitely be a sight to see.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Training Simmers Down as Competition Approaches

As the Olympics near, Carrie and her teammates are tapering down their training. The team is alternating between two and three practices a day. They are doing the same types of workouts, but at about half the volume. Their volume will continue to drop as they get closer to the races.

Despite the hectic schedule, Carrie is hanging out with the other kayakers at the hotel between practices. After morning practice the team beats the heat by watching movies, reading or going on facebook.

During their half days they try to do something fun. So far the team has gone to a mineral spa and a Buddhist temple garden.

This morning they went to Natadera, a Buddhist temple and nature park. Carrie said they didn’t stay long, but “it was nice to get out of the hotel for a little, walk around and get to see some of Japan.”

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Carrie Gets Taste of Japan -- Video!

Spirits are high in Komatsu as Carrie and her teammates settle into Japan. Carrie has been training on a lake about ten minutes away from her hotel and she is sharing the water with canoe / kayak teams from Japan, France and Belgium. The clean air and tranquil setting are helping the athletes focus as the competition approaches. One highlight of Japan is abundance of healthy food. Carrie and company are eating authentic Japanese food that they call different, but very healthy and very good.

Carrie also is acclimating to the different weather. The humidity is around 80 percent so it's a big change from San Diego. Carrie says she doesn’t know what the air quality will be like in China, but she is trying to focus on preparing for the race.

Carrie and the other athletes in Japan have attracted the attention of several news media, including CNN. Check out this link to watch Carrie as she races towards Beijing.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Training Commences in Japan

After landing in Narita, Japan over the weekend Carrie Johnson and her team started gearing up for the Olympics with pre-competition training in Komatsu, Japan. Komatsu was chosen as a training ground because it is the same latitude as Beijing and being away from the village in Beijing allows Carrie and the rest of the USA Canoe / Kayak team to practice in less-polluted air. It also gives the athletes more of an opportunity to focus on training during the first week of the Olympic Games.

She says the hardest part of her sport is balancing in the kayak, which is 16 feet long and about as wide as her hips. This week Carrie, who has two workouts a day, will work on maintaining her endurance and balance.

Carrie will be in Japan until August 14th which means she will have to watch the opening ceremonies on television like the rest of us. But the two-time Olympian will participate in the closing ceremonies -- hopefully wearing a medal.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Carrie Takes Off to Japan

Today at around 11 a.m. Carrie boarded a flight on United Airlines from San Francisco to Japan, where she will train until August 14th before heading off to the Beijing Olympics. In San Francisco Carrie and her teammates got their Olympic training gear and closing ceremony outfits.

Before heading off to Japan, Carrie had a lot to prepare for. Whenever the UC San Diego senior travels, she packs her own food. Carrie, who was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in 2003, packed healthy meals and snacks, like brown rice, cliff bars and freeze dried fruit. She makes room for the food in her paddle bag.

Although Carrie had a hectic schedule before leaving she took the time to call her grandma and parents to say goodbye.

Carrie will land at the Tokyo Narita International Airport around 2 p.m. tomorrow and will begin training.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Olympic Kayaker Carrie Johnson July 31, 2008

Making it onto an Olympic team is tough enough. Making it twice puts an athlete’s achievement in a whole different league. And that’s exactly what UC San Diego student Johnson, 24, has managed to do this year. Johnson will compete in the Olympics for the second time as a flat-water kayaker and she has done it all while on medication to battle Crohn's disease, an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation of the digestive tract. The condition kept her out of the water for a time, but she has learned to manage it.

"That was really hard, but being away from the sport showed me just how much I love it."

The native San Diegan also encountered other injuries en route to the Olympics. Johnson started out as a gymnast, but gave up after she broke her arm 11 years ago. However, she didn’t want to stop playing sports, so she entered San Diego’s Junior Lifeguard program where she discovered a passion for kayaking.

Johnson transitioned quickly into becoming an elite kayaker, but when she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2003, she had a major flare-up and had to sit out the 2003 world championships. “The experience gave me a new outlook on why I wanted to paddle.” She started taking medications and her condition stabilized and at age 20 she was the youngest member of the 2004 Olympic Kayaking Team. “I wasn’t expected to be on the team,” she said. “It was a surprise to a lot of people and to myself. It was an amazing experience. It is like the ultimate test for an athlete.”