Left Hander Of The Year 2008


With so many left-handed high achievers in the news over recent months, we thought it only fitting to mark the fact by choosing a LEFT-HANDER OF THE YEAR to be chosen by you, our Left-Handers Club members, and announced on Left-Handers Day.

We asked Members in our last newsletter nominate their favourite high-profile left-hander, someone in the public eye who has achieved greatness in their field, (e.g. sportsman, actor, politician, scientist). We received hundreds of nominations with loads of reasons why people thought their choice should be included in our short-list and after much debate in the office we have narrowed it down to a final list of 5 people that we put to the vote to decide our winner.

All the votes were counted and the winner, announced on Left-Handers' Day, 13 August 2008 is... Barack Obama

The Nominations

These are the 5 left-handers who got the most nominations, with a brief profile and some of the reasons you gave for nominating them

Barack Obama

Image descriptionBarack Hussein Obama II was born August 4, 1961. He is the nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2008 presidential election, and the first African American to be a major party's presumptive nominee for President of the United States.

A graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, Obama worked as a community organizer and practiced as a civil rights attorney before serving in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004, rising to become the junior United States Senator from Illinois.

He also taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. Following an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, he announced his campaign for the U.S. Senate in January 2003. After winning a landslide primary victory in March 2004, Obama delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004. He was elected to the Senate in November 2004 with 70% of the vote.

As a member of the Democratic minority in the 109th Congress, he cosponsored legislation to control conventional weapons and to promote greater public accountability in the use of federal funds. He also made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. In the current 110th Congress, he has sponsored legislation regarding lobbying and electoral fraud, climate change, nuclear terrorism, and care for returned U.S. military personnel. During his Presidential campaign, Obama has emphasized withdrawing American troops from Iraq, increasing energy independence, decreasing the influence of lobbyists, and promoting universal health care as top national priorities.

Reasons given by Members with their nominations for him to win:

  • He has overcome great odds to represent his party in the US Presidential race and will inspire a future group of left-handers to achieve as much as he has.
  • He has made history this year with his bid to be president of the US and if he gets it he will be making even more history.
  • No matter what your politics are, you have to admit that this man has taken U.S. politics by storm. He is an incredibly prolific, and gifted man. He is definitely the best choice for Left Hander of the Year 2008

Angelina Jolie

Image descriptionAngelina Jolie (born Angelina Jolie Voight on June 4, 1975) is an American film actor and a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency. She has been cited as one of the world's most beautiful women and her off-screen life is widely reported. Jolie has received three Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and an Academy Award.

Though she made her screen debut as a child alongside her father Jon Voight in the 1982 film Lookin' to Get Out, Jolie's acting career began in earnest a decade later with the low budget production Cyborg 2 (1993). Her first leading role in a major film was in Hackers (1995). She starred in the critically acclaimed biographical films George Wallace (1997) and Gia (1998), and won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the drama Girl, Interrupted (1999). Jolie achieved international fame as a result of her portrayal of video game heroine Lara Croft in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), and since then has established herself as one of the best-known and highest-paid actresses in Hollywood. She had her biggest commercial success with the action-comedy Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005).

Divorced from actors Jonny Lee Miller and Billy Bob Thornton, Jolie currently lives with actor Brad Pitt, in a relationship that has attracted worldwide media attention. Jolie and Pitt have three adopted children, Maddox, Pax, and Zahara, as well as three biological children, Shiloh, Knox, and Vivienne. Jolie has promoted humanitarian causes throughout the world, and is noted for her work with refugees through UNHCR.

Reasons given by Members with their nominations for him to win:

  • This lefty has been a great actress who has been named actress of the year of '08. She has long been promoting the lives in third world countries. Angelina Jolie is an actress, U.N. Ambassador, mother, and icon.
  • She's just incredible. She has a huge hart and seems very down to earth. With everything that she is involved in and still has time for her family.
  • Not only has she (and Brad Pitt) adopted three children from different countries, she has donated millions in charity. I think she represents the best candidate for the Left-Handers Club because of her compassion, good will towards others, and she doesn't let her beauty, wealth or fame go to her head. She is truly a "people" person.

Paul McCartney

Image descriptionSir Paul McCartney, MBE (born 18 June 1942) is an English rock singer, bass guitarist, songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, entrepreneur, record producer, film producer and animal-rights activist. He gained worldwide fame as a member of The Beatles, with John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. McCartney and Lennon formed one of the most influential and successful songwriting partnerships and "wrote some of the most popular music in rock and roll history". After leaving The Beatles, McCartney launched a successful solo career and formed the band Wings with his first wife, Linda Eastman McCartney, and singer-songwriter Denny Laine. He has worked on film scores, classical music, and ambient/electronic music; released a large catalogue of songs as a solo artist; and taken part in projects to help international charities.

McCartney is listed in Guinness World Records as the most successful musician and composer in popular music history, with 60 gold discs and sales of 100 million singles. His song "Yesterday" is listed as the most covered song in history - by over 3700 artists so far - and has been played more than 7,000,000 times on American television and radio. Wings' 1977 single "Mull of Kintyre" became the first single to sell more than two million copies in the UK, and remains the UK's top selling non-charity single. (Three charity singles have since surpassed it in sales; the first to do so—in 1984—was Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?", whose participants included McCartney.)

His company MPL Communications owns the copyrights to more than 3,000 songs, including all of the songs written by Buddy Holly, along with the publishing rights to such musicals as Guys and Dolls, A Chorus Line, and Grease. McCartney is also an advocate for animal rights, vegetarianism, and music education; he is active in campaigns against landmines, seal hunting, and Third World debt.

Reasons given by Members with their nominations for him to win:

  • He's so creative and unlike a lot of left handers does play the guitar strung for a left hander. Despite a very public divorce case he has continued to create and perform great music, both contemnor and classical.
  • A left handed legend who played the mandolin left handed on his latest record
  • He is still the greatest composer/artist alive!

David Archuleta

Image descriptionDavid Archuleta is a singer and musician who found fame as the runner up in the hit TV talent show American Idol 7. Archuleta was born in Miami, Florida. His family moved to the Salt Lake Valley, to the city of Sandy, Utah, when Archuleta was six. He currently lives in Murray, Utah, where he is a student at Murray High School. He once suffered partial vocal paralysis but declined risky surgery and has said he feels he is almost fully recovered.

Archuleta started singing at age six, inspired by a Les Misérables video. "That musical is what started all of this," he said. He started performing publicly at age 10 when he participated in the Utah Talent Competition singing "I Will Always Love You" by Dolly Parton; he received a standing ovation and won the Child Division.

At age 11 he made his television debut. He sang "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" on a Jenny Jones show for future Latino stars.

Archuleta won his ticket to the Hollywood final auditions (with a performance of John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change") with the help of idol judge, Randy Jackson, who sang the background "waiting" in the song. (at the SImage descriptionan Diego tryouts held at Qualcomm Stadium July 30 and July 31, 2007.) He was 16 during the Hollywood auditions (where he sang Bryan Adams' "Heaven" and Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" to unanimous praise) and because he was not yet 18, had to attend school while a part of American Idol's seventh season. His parents were there because he was a minor. Archuleta also took advantage of the decision to allow contestants to play musical instruments when he accompanied himself on piano for his performances of "Another Day in Paradise" and "Angels."

In the finale he sang "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," "In This Moment" and "Imagine." Judge Simon Cowell declared that Archuleta won the evening and even David Cook - a fellow left-hander who ultimately won, thought Archuleta would win: "I have to concede it, the kid came out all three songs and nailed it," said Cook. In the final tally, Archuleta received 44 percent of the votes.

Reasons given by Members with their nominations for him to win:

  • He has changed so many lives through his music and just through who he is. He is an amazing, kind-hearted, humble, talented person and he has touched thousands of lives this year, on American Idol, and after. He was runner-up, but is a winner to all of his thousands of fans who love him and appreciate what he does so much.
  • David has touched so many people with his beautiful voice and his ability to connect with the audience on American Idol.
  • Because he rocks our world! Because he has the best left hand writing I have ever seen!

Rafael Nadal

Image descriptionRafael Nadalis a Spanish professional tennis player. He has been ranked #2 on the ATP Tour for a record 158 weeks and will become #1 on 18 August 2008.

Nadal grew up in a sports-minded family; his uncle Miguel Angel Nadal was a professional association football (soccer) player who competed in the 2002 World Cup.

Rafael began playing tennis at age four, guided by another uncle, Toni Nadal, who remained his coach on the professional tour. In his early years, Nadal (who wrote with his right hand) played left-handed tennis with both a two-handed forehand and backhand. When he was 12, however, his uncle encouraged him to adopt a more conventional left-handed style. Nadal stuck with his two-handed backhand but switched to what became his signature one-handed forehand, the stroke that was credited with lifting him into the sport’s upper echelons.

During his incredible career, Nadal has won five Grand Slam singles titles. He won four consecutive French Open titles from 2005-2008 and Wimbledon in 2008. He is the only male player other than Björn Borg to have won four consecutive French Open titles in the Open Era and one of only three in the Open Era who won both the French Open and Wimbledon in the same calendar year. He is also only the second male Spaniard to have won the Wimbledon title.

Nadal is already regarded by some tennis critics and former players as the greatest clay-court player in the history of the sport. He won a record 81 consecutive matches on clay from April 2005 to May 2007. This is the longest winning streak of any male player on a single surface in the Open Era. He also has a 22-1 record in the finals of clay-court tournaments and is undefeated in over 40 best-of-five-set matches on clay.

Nadal has a storied rivalry with Roger Federer and leads 12-6 in career meetings. They have played in 6 Grand Slam finals, an Open Era record, with Nadal winning 4 of these matches. Known best for his stunning triumph at Wimbledon against Federer in 2008, Nadal took his first Wimbledon championship away from the Swiss champ in a grueling 4 hours 48 minutes for one of the longest men's final in tennis history.

Reasons given by Members with their nominations for him to win:

  • Never gave up, never lost belief in himself & is a thoroughly nice guy.
  • For consistently high standard of tennis, winning of competitions, always conducting himself with decorum and manners on and off the court.
  • Because of his outstanding tennis performances winning French Open, Queens and then Wimbledon in succession. He is a joy to watch

Your vote

Voting for 2008 has now closed, but we'll be doing it again for Left Handers' Day 2009. Make sure you have joined the free Left Handers club so you will receive our newsletters and keep up to date.

You can still use the form below to give us your views on including right-handed writers and the issues raised by Elaine (see below)

First name

Email address

Your selection for Left Hander of the Year 2008

Barack Obama
Angelina Jolie
Paul McCartney
David Archuleta
Rafael Nadal

What are your views on including people who do the activity they are famous for left-handed but write right-handed?

What do think of the whole idea of having a Left Hander of the Year and any of the other issues raised in Elaine's email below?

Please click ONCE ONLY and allow a few seconds to process it.
You will see a thank you screen and get a confirmation email.
Any duplicate votes from the same IP address will be deleted.

Strong views from one member

This is the email we received from Club member Elaine

I don't wish to sound like a curmudgeon, and I think the Left-handed Club does a lot of great work, but I find this "Left Hander of the Year" business frankly rather puerile. I was already a bit irritated by the fanfare with which you greeted the fact that two of the leading US presidential candidates are left-handed. That's hardly a reason to vote for someone, is it? Oh, never mind the fact I disagree with all his/her opinions, I'd much rather have a left-handed president who doesn't share my political views than a right-handed one who does!

Most other minority groups have progressed beyond the stage of just being thrilled when any member of their group does something noteworthy. We look to you to help improve access to suitable equipment for manual jobs where left-handers really do struggle, not get over-excited about someone who has achieved at a high level in a field where being left-handed doesn't make any difference, like being a politician.

As for seizing on Rafael Nadal as a potential left-hander of the year, when, as you say, he writes right-handed, well, surely we're not really that sad and desperate, are we? What you ought to be doing is getting hold of some serious information to explain the fact that he seems to be a natural right-hander who has chosen to play tennis left-handed. The commentators at Wimbledon suggested that he did this to give himself a competitive advantage, because right-handers find left-handers more difficult to play. I find this hard to believe because I just don't think it is possible to play tennis at such a superb level with your non-dominant hand. I think it is more likely that he is a natural left-hander who was bullied into writing with his right hand - although one hopes that Majorca is not that backward in its educational policies.

It is this discrepancy that is the real story, not the mere fact that Nadal won Wimbledon. Left-handers are not in any way disadvantaged in tennis, indeed as previously suggested they may be at an advantage, and as far as I can see they are actually over-represented among elite tennis players, so you can hardly spin this as a "wow, left-hander overcomes tremendous odds to win something" story. Whatever turns out to be the truth about Nadal, it will be fascinating for members of this club. Can't you just contact Nadal himself and ask him ?? Surely that's the point of having a high profile organisation to represent left-handers, that you can approach people in a way that the ordinary leftie in the street can't.



Well... a few points for discussion there!

This is Keith's response

Thank you for passing on your views and I tend to agree with some of them. Whether someone is “left-handed” is always a tricky subject and, as we have stated, we take the view that if someone uses their left hand for the thing they are famous for or if they consider themselves a left-hander, then they are a left-hander.

We try to give our members what they want and, with such a huge spread of people worldwide and of all ages that is not always easy. I think we will probably put your views to the members (anonymously) and see what people think. I suspect it would cause a lively and interesting debate!


We then got the following feedback from Elaine

Thanks for your reply.When I said that being so eager to adopt Nadal looked a bit desperate, I didn't mean that we ought not to touch him because he is not a "true" or "pure" left-hander, it was the argument itself about whether he "counts as one of us" that I thought was so silly and childish.

There is still so little hard scientific data on handedness, and Nadal is a wonderful case study that has landed in the centre of public consciousness, and somebody ought to be saying, Please Raffa, let us attach electrodes to your brain to see which bits of it are lighting up when, and the Left-handed Club should be pushing for more of this type of research.

Personally I'm fed up with being told that left-handers are creative and artistic and good at arranging tiles and paving stones, which doesn't sound in the least like me. The best thing about it now being certain that the next US president will be left-handed is that it will put a dent in this stereotype. I wouldn't want to be the interviewer who told John McCain that he's good at arranging tiles artistically but ought to leave analytical thought to the right-handers



We would be very interested in other people's views on this - use the box in the voting section above to let us have any comments and we will put them together and give you feedback in a future Club newsletter.

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