'Mind over matter', as the saying goes! Human beings are capable of doing extraordinary things. No obstacle is insurmountable for someone determined to reach their goal. Exceeding one's own limits is the hallmark of some people, particularly when it comes to sporting endeavors! What about you? Have you ever surprised yourself when you've set yourself a challenge?
Here are 14 inspiring people, whose grit and determination allowed them to surpass our wildest expectations!
1. A rower's hands
Alex Gregory is an English rower and double Olympic gold medalist. And it was on his Twitter account that he published this photo. This is what his hands look like once he takes off his rowing gloves. Success, as they say, comes with a price!
2. Extreme temperatures
WWim Hof is also known a 'Iceman'. He is a Dutch extreme sports enthusiast. He holds 20 world records, including the longest ice-bath. He's also written about the various techniques we can use in order to deal with extreme temperatures. There's even a breathing method that's named after him!
3. The king of the tightrope walkers
Have you ever heard Nik Wallenda? He was the first man to tightrope across The Grand Canyon! He comes from a family of thrill-seekers: his great-grandfather tightrope walked across 4,000 meters above the Tallulah Falls and his mother continued to tightrope walk during her pregnancy. In 2011, Nik completed a walk across San Juan, a feat that cost his great-grandfather his life. In 2012, he set a new record when he tightrope walked across the Niagara Falls and back again!
4. He held this position for 9 hours in order to raise money for a charity
George Hood is a retired Navy officer. He recently broke his own planking record, holding his position for 9 hours and 20 minutes. Every time he tries to break his own record, he raises money for a charity. His motto is to 'Set goals, keep the score, beat your record... everything else is just exercise!'.
5. Amputees who inspire others through dance
Ma Li and Zhai Xiaowei are two Chinese dancers who perform their 'Hand In Hand' show around the world. Zhai lost her arm in a car accident and Ma had a leg amputated. Their resilience grows with each performance.
6. A man who defies gravity with his arms and legs
Alex Honnold is an American climber. He free climbed El Captain in Yosemite National Park. So far he's the only person to have achieved such a feat, doing so in less than 4 hours (3 hours and 56 minutes to be precise).
7. Approximately 3 km from Mount Evans, Colorado
8. A 91 year-old gymnast
This German athlete is 91 years old. She is the oldest gymnast in the world. She started gymnastics at age 9, before moving on to handball. She returned to gymnastics at the age of 56 and since then continues to work out using parallel bars. She plans to keep going until the day she dies!
9. The strongest child in the world
This mini Hulk is 9 year-old Romanian Giuliano Stro who started bodybuilding at 2 years old. He also broke a speed record for walking on his hands while weighted down; at 4 years old he managed to exceed 10 meters!
10. He reached the summit of Everest despite being a double amputee
Mark Inglis lost his legs when he was 23 after being trapped in ice in a cave in New Zealand. But that didn't stop him. In 2006, he became the first double amputee to climb Everest. He's also worked as a scientist, winemaker, Paralympic athlete and motivational speaker. Nothing will stop this guy!
11. A guitar player who doesn't need hands
José Antonio Meléndez Rodríguez was born without arms. Against all odds, he became a musician and his favorite instrument is the guitar. He learned how to play with his feet. On September 15, 1987, he performed for Pope John Paul II, a highlight of his career. He released his first album following this performance and has since become a global success.
12. She ran a marathon at 76
Harriette Thompson went down in history after being the eldest woman to complete a marathon. She took up running when she was in her fifties, starting with short runs with her husband. And at 76 years old, she entered into her first marathon. She also overcame 2 cancers before dying at the ripe old age of 94.
13. He amputated his own arm
Aron Ralston was mountaineering when he had an accident. Stuck between rocks for 3 days, he was forced to amputate his own limb before safely getting out of the canyon unaided! And despite that he continues to climb!
14. A lot of pedaling
The Polish cyclist Pawel Poljanski posted this picture of his legs on his Instagram account, after completing a 165km stage of the Tour de France!