You know what’s not entertaining? Things that are likely to happen.
There’s no surprise in “likely” and no one’s ever been left speechless by something they saw coming from a mile away.
If there’s one facet of society where people come together to watch the unlikely and impossible happen, it’s sports. There’s something incredibly beautiful and inspiring about watching people pull off seemingly superhuman feats of strength and agility.
The following is a sampling of those mind-blowing displays of physical prowess. They are athletic feats that don’t seem possible and they’re here to remind you of the capabilities of the human body.
Porter Maberry doesn’t defy gravity—he spits in its face.
Every time the 5’5” pro-dunker launches into the air, it appears the rules of our physical world have been suspended and anything is possible.
Maberry—a 22-year-old native of Grand Rapids, Michigan—was largely overlooked as a point guard in high school. He kept playing the game for fun, however, and his oversized vertical (somewhere in the neighborhood of 45-48 inches) eventually earned him national attention and a job as a professional dunker.
Keep doing your thing, Porter. The world needs more Spud Webbs and Nate Robinsons.
Puig giveth and Puig taketh away.
Yasiel Puig is a force in the MLB, and when he’s not busy being everyone’s non-English speaking presenter at the ESPYs, he’s shooting 50-yard laser beams from the outfield.
Puig's finest throw in the major leagues came against the Atlanta Braves in June 2013 when Atlanta’s Andrelton Simmons took off for third on a Jason Heyward liner to right field. Simmons made the run believing there was no way anyone would be able to make a throw that far with enough speed and accuracy to catch him. He was wrong.
Puig gripped up the ball and hurled it like an Aroldis Chapman fastball, beating Simmons to the bag.
Watching J.J. Watt jump up on to a 59.5” stack of boxes is terrifying, considering this is a 6’5” man who weighs nearly 300 pounds.
Someone that size should not be able to heave their body that high in the air without a running start and still be able to land cleanly on a surface taller than the roof of most cars.
Cry “PEDs!” if you want. Scream “HGH!” from the rooftops if it makes you feel better; however, some men are just gym-freak animals and some of them are capable of jumping in through your moonroof.
Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman threw a fastball for the ages against the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011, whipping a strike over home plate that may or may not have been the fastest pitch ever recorded in a major league game.
The man nicknamed “The Cuban Missile” already held the previous record for fastest pitch with a 105.1 mph fastball he corked off in 2010 against the San Diego Padres. His 2011 pitch, however, registered different speeds on two separate radar guns at Great American Ballpark.
One gun clocked the pitch at 105 mph, while the other registered 106 mph. Controversy still remains around whether or not the latter reading was accurate. Regardless of accuracy, 105 mph is an ungodly and inhuman pitch speed, and likely as fast as the human body is capable of throwing a baseball.
Even more incredible is the fact that two years have passed since the “106 pitch” and Chapman is injury free and still throwing as hard as ever.
It’s absolutely unreal—at 91 years of age, Arthur Gilbert is still doing triathlons.
The British man has been swimming, biking and running to the finish line since the age of 68. He trains for his races every day of the week and keeps alcohol and tobacco out of his diet.
Gilbert is a grandfather (naturally) and was a torchbearer for the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games. No word on whether or not Werther's is sponsoring him.
You know the story.
After tearing his ACL in 2011, there’s no way Adrian Peterson should ever have been able to pull off the kind of season he had in 2012.
We all witnessed the magic, however, as Peterson emerged from a potentially crippling injury like some kind of half phoenix, half Robocop freak of nature and laid track over the league, racking up 2,097 yards—nine yards shy of Eric Dickerson’s all-time single season rushing record.
It’s an incredible story and it’s certainly not normal.
Fauja Singh is hanging up his sneakers from marathon running. He’s had a decent career, however, considering he’s retiring from running at the age of 101.
Singh, the world’s oldest marathoner, was born in India in 1911. Let that digest that for a moment—a man who can remember World War I just retired from long distance running.
Dealing with the losses of his wife and son, Fauja “The Turban-ed Tornado” Singh (his nickname) began running at the age of 89 to deal with his depression. Singh claims running has helped turn his life around over the past thirteen years, but he's happy he is "retiring at the top of the game."
His best marathon time came at the Toronto Marathon in 2003, where he ran the 26 miles in five hours and 40 minutes.
He is all that is man.
ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi reported in May that Jadeveon Clowney—a 6’6”, 270-pound man—ran a 4.50 40-yard dash during a South Carolina offseason workout this spring.
It doesn’t sound possible, right?
Many had trouble believing the news and wrote it off as a team pumping up its rising star. So when a slightly leaner, 265-pound Clowney came out this July and claimed he had beaten his time by running a 4.46, eyebrows across the nation shot up in skepticism.
“Boo! Jadeveon Clowney didn’t run a 4.46! I don’t believe it! Rabble rabble!”
Sure, there may have been a generous hand on the stopwatch, but it’s not like the Gamecocks were timing him with a sundial. The time is close to correct.
Worst-case scenario here is that the Gamecock monster defensive end runs slightly over a 4.5 40-yard dash—which still makes him the scariest person on defense in the NCAA.
It isn’t called “Ironman” just because it sounds cool.
Finishing an Ironman distance triathlon is a feat of superhuman strength. The event begins with a 2.4-mile swim in open water, followed by a 112-mile bike ride. After that, all that’s left for you to do is run a 26.2-mile marathon.
Dick and Rick Hoyt do it together, and it's a Herculean effort for both men. Dick Hoyt has pushed and pulled his son Rick through more than 1,000 endurance events over the last 30 years. Rick was born with cerebral palsy and Dick soon after began running with him in a wheelchair in events such as the Boston Marathon.
Participating in the events makes Rick happy, and the biggest test the two have ever undertaken is the Ironman where Dick pulls, pushes and carries his son along with him for every inch of the swim, bike and run.
It’s inspirational and beautiful and, above all, a feat of strength and determination that almost doesn't seem possible. But as Dick and Rick prove time and again, it most certainly is.
You have to recognize heroes when you see them, and this fan at the 2011 Home Run Derby is a red cape short of deserving his own Marvel Comics spin-off.
In one fluid motion he manages to illustrate all the traits of an alpha athlete. He sacrifices his body/clothes (determination), catches the ball (hand-eye coordination) and holds his beer out of the water as he falls into the pool (situational awareness).
Some professional athletes never even scrape the surface of talent this man in the stands displayed catching a single home run ball.
They don’t come faster than Hicham el Guerouj.
The Moroccan runner set the world record for the world’s fastest mile time, narrowly beating out Kenya’s Noah Ngeny to complete the mile in 3 minutes and 43.13 seconds at Rome’s Olympic Stadium in 1999.
Guerouj’s time beat the previous world record time by more than a full second and the Moroccan’s record-setting performance has yet to be approached by another runner in the 21st century, with the closest challenger being Alan Webb, who ran 3:46.91 in 2007.
I’ll be the first to tell you—I know next to nothing about cricket.
The good thing, however, is that you don't need a wealth of cricket knowledge to see that AB de Villiers has been bitten and/or felt up by a genetically-altered super spider.
The South African demonstrates his incredible reflexes with this singularly awesome play in the field. He rolls Neo-style to his left and catches the ball on the bounce like a ninja.
While that much alone would have been enough for some serious commendation, de Villiers takes it to the next level by hurling an on-target shot at the wicket.
He’s rolling and off-balanced, and he makes the perfect throw from across his body. Get this man a cookie.
Don’t say anything. Just watch pure athleticism at work.
Reggie Bush’s athleticism knows no bounds and when he finds himself a breath of fresh air in the open field, he can do things that no one else in the sport can.
The “Fleur de Leap” is vintage Bush. He takes off from the six-yard line, sails over a defender and lands in the end zone to score. All in a day’s work.
I had never seen a man devour another man’s soul before I watched Vince Carter dunk over seven-footer Frederic Weis at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney.
Thirteen years have passed since Carter showed off the pinnacle of his athleticism and I can still feel adrenaline pouring through the screen when he kicks his leg up in celebration. It’s like watching a real-life Mortal Kombat fatality on the hardwood.
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