First Person With Dwarfism Finishes IRONMAN Triathlon


John Young is no stranger to doubters. Because he stands just 4’4,” he’s had people tell him his entire life that he can’t do certain things.

Now, Young has done something most haven’t: cross the finish line of an Ironman triathlon.

Young just became the first person with dwarfism to ever finish the monster three-part race, which includes a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run.

He hit the record books after slaying IRONMAN Maryland with a time of 14 hours, 21 minutes.

“With shorter arms and legs, it takes more strokes to swim or steps to run the same distance as an average-sized triathlete,” Young told Triathlete last year. “I have done the calculations and determined with my 20-inch wheels, I need to pedal at least 35 percent more revolutions in order to go the same distance as someone using a 27-inch wheel.”

A 50-year-old high school teacher from Salem, Mass., Young was born with a genetic disorder called achondroplasia, which is a form of dwarfism that 80% of “little people” have.

According to, he weighed 195 pounds in 2006 and was suffering from sleep apnea, so he began swimming again to shed some weight. One thing led to another and he started biking, too.

Then in 2009, he saw a video on Dick Hoyt completing an Ironman with his disabled son, Rick. Inspired by the effort, Young started with sprint triathlons and worked his way up in distance.

He has since completed more than 40 triathlons, eight half-distance races and eight marathons—including the Boston Marathon three times and the New York City Marathon. In doing so, he earned the nickname “The Hammer.” He realized an IRONMAN didn’t seem so impossible. (

Take a look at Young in this video CNN put out:

Job well done, John!

Kim Constantinesco

Kim Constantinesco

As the founder and editor-in-chief of, Kim Constantinesco dives under the surface hype to illuminate heroes in the sports world. Whether talking with the first man with cerebral palsy to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro, or the first woman to mountain bike across Afghanistan, Kim has a keen interest in shining the spotlight on ordinary people doing extraordinary things. She believes it's time media starts placing a higher value on the people and communities who are actively doing something to make the world a little better. Previously, she covered the Denver Broncos and the NFL for seven seasons. Her work has been featured on, CBS Sports, Fox Sports, The New York Times, and USA Today. She resides in Denver, CO. When not working, she can be found deep in the Rocky Mountains throwing backflips on her snowboard. Follow Kim on Twitter: @KimCon14
Kim Constantinesco


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