Zion Clark, an entrepreneur, motivational speaker, actor, author and athlete to name a few, has added a new accolade to his list – record breaker.
Zion attempted the fastest 20m walking on hands on 15 February 2021 at his former high school gym in Massillon, Ohio, USA.
After warming up, he took his place at the start line and exploded in a burst of speed, smashing the record in a time of 4.78 seconds.
“Before I knew it, I had crossed the finish line! A rush of euphoria surged through my body as the official timer called out 4.78 seconds!” – Zion Clark
His track coach, Olympic Gold Medalist and Guinness World Records title holder Butch Reynolds, played an essential role in mentally preparing him for the attempt, along with close friends and family who supported him along the way.
“Everybody was excited, I was excited, my girlfriend was excited… it was just a moment man!”
The road to Zion’s success was certainly not easy, and filled with many trials and tribulations.
However he continually pushes himself beyond his limits to obtain his goals, spurred on by a simple phrase; “no excuses”.
“I will always work with what I’ve got because I don’t really have any other cards that are dealt to me… I’ve got to play them the right way so I can be successful and win the card game.”
From day one, Zion experienced challenges many will never have to.
He was born with Caudal Regression Syndrome, a rare condition characterized by abnormal development of the lower (caudal) end of the spine.
“In my case, my birth mother did not take care of her body at all while she was pregnant with me, she was on a multitude of different drugs, and that caused me to have defects,” Zion shared.
“It made my life harder from the get go because I had to go through two different surgeries for my back, just so I could sit up straight.”
Zion was put up for adoption soon after birth and, for 16 years, moved through the foster care system, hoping to find a permanent family.
During this journey, Zion experienced bullying, mental abuse and underfeeding in the homes he was placed in. Despite facing these significant challenges, he always remained hopeful.
Within days of Zion legally aging-out of the foster care system, he was adopted by a loving mother, Kimberli Hawkins, who had always dreamed of having a son.
The two share an incredible bond, with Zion citing his adoption as the best thing that’s ever happened to him.
“To me, it’s not a foster mother. A lot of people say foster mother and I’m not a big fan of that because she is my mother.”
“The older I got, the stronger I got. And one day I remember I just got up on my hands and was like ‘OK this is how I’m doing it’.”
However, sadly Zion’s obstacles didn’t end there. When he started school, he was badly bullied and teased by some of the other children.
“I did get bullied when I was a kid. I got shoved in lockers, I have been beat up pretty bad.”
Despite his tough experiences, Zion made the decision, as he had at so many other moments in his young life, to continue to strive forward. He made friends and got good grades in many subjects.
“If I could talk to all those people who bullied me, beat me up and really disrespected me, do you know what I’d say? I’d say thank you. Because it really made me stronger.”
“The world is a cruel place, it’s up to you to decide how to live in it.”
He was introduced to wrestling in elementary school and, despite not winning a match for several years, became an incredible wrestler in high school.
“I [was] tired of being that bottom dog. I just put in the work as much as I could every day.”
“I went to two or three wrestling practises a day for seven days a week for three months straight.
“Man, by the time my senior year of high school came around I became one of the best guys in the state.”
His perseverance and passion for the sport opened doors for other opportunities – including attempting his Guinness World Records title when his speedy skill was spotted on Instagram.
“Nobody is going to get to that top level if they don’t put in the work. I’m willing to put in the work and willing to make the sacrifices.”
“The message I would give to kids with disabilities or anyone with a disability would be – It’s going to be hard, but if you’ve got the heart and the determination, you can go get what’s yours. If you’re disabled or you’re not disabled, the message stays the same.”
Zion’s legacy is now immortalized in the pages of Guinness World Records 2022, where people everywhere can be motivated by his story.
Zion says he feels like “a member of an elite group” to have achieved the record
In the future, he has his sights set on the Olympics and winning more medals than Michael Phelps, who’s currently the most decorated Olympian of all time.
He wants to become the first American athlete to compete in both the Olympic (wrestling) and Paralympic (wheelchair racing) games in 2024 – and with his determination, we’re sure he will be.
You can find Zion’s record in Guinness World Records 2022, available now.
Story by Guiness World Records