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John Young is the First Individual with Dwarfism to Compete in an IRONMAN, and he’s also a DIRT

DIRT John Young doesn’t let dwarfism define him. Get a glimpse of what’s inside this remarkable man!
In the words of John Young, himself.

OK, this is my perspective. As a person with dwarfism, I’ve heard throughout my entire life while walking down the street, shopping, or simply doing my job, “You are such an inspiration!”


And I’m like, “WTF. I’m just being me.” I have lived with dwarfism my entire life, and it is just one part of me. So when I’m singled out because of my dwarfism, it often rubs me the wrong way.


I’m a marathon runner and triathlete first. If you want to say, my DRIVE, my HARD-WORK, my FORTITUDE inspires you, that makes me feel good. That’s what’s inside. I made that! I created that.


Dwarfism has been here from the start, or in other’s people cases, maybe their disability happened to them. It wasn’t a choice.

Being an athlete is a choice, and like all other athletes, it was inside of me that made it. So be inspired by that. But to simply say, a person is inspired by someone’s blindness, or missing limb, or short-stature, IMO, you are valuing them based upon their body and not what they created.

"Triathlon has become life in microcosm, a metaphor that gives truth to the wisdom passed from each generation to the next: work hard and you will be rewarded, have faith in yourself and you will excel; do not falter when an ill wind blows your way."

John Young was born in Toronto, Ontario, in the ’60s.  Always a swimmer, John was much more of a sports fan than an athlete for most of his life.  He started teaching high school math and coaching basketball in 1990.  In 1999, John and his wife Sue moved to Hong Kong, where John continued his teaching career.  


In 2003, after the birth of their son Owen in 2002, John and Sue moved to Massachusetts.  John continues to teach math a Pingree School, a small independent prep school north of Boston, where he has also worked as the freshmen boys’ basketball coach and the varsity swim coach.

As an attempt to improve his health and fitness, John started cycling in 2008 (at the age of 42) and then stumbled upon a video of Dick and Rick Hoyt, the father-son team, competing in marathons and triathlons for more than 30 years.  Following Dick’s and Rick’s mantra of “YES YOU CAN,” John entered and completed his first triathlon in 2009.

John has completed more than 50 triathlons, including ten ½ iron distance races, 18 marathons (Boston x6 and NYC x6), and numerous ½ marathons. In October 2016, he raced in Ironman Maryland, becoming the first person with dwarfism to run in an Ironman distance race.


Once COVID “hit,” like many other athletes, John struggled to find a way to stay motivated without any races on the horizon.  Based out of NYC, his coach, Brian Hammond, suggested he connect with him and his other clients online and start using ZWIFT.  

With a non-smart trainer (not many options for smart trainers that fit 20-inch wheels) and new POWER pedals, John jumped into ZWIFT with both feet.  Along the way, he’s joined DIRT and logged some good DROPS.


You can follow John on Twitter and Instagram by searching @dwarfparatri.

Any Words for John the athlete?

Comment below!  Your fellow virtual cyclists want to know.


For more great stories about the extraordinary members of the DIRT community check out the DIRT Zwift Team page on The ZOM!

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