Oregon sophomore Justin Gallegos was recently surprised with a professional contract from Nike. While Nike contracts aren’t the rarest thing in the world, they’re not exactly common. But what makes this even more impressive is Justin was born with cerebral palsy, a muscular disorder that leads to poor coordination, stiff and weakened muscles, and difficulty moving one’s limbs.
Gallegos found out about his Nike contract offer when he was surprised by a video crew and Nike’s Insights Director, John Truax. He was unaware the camera was there to record him becoming the first Nike athlete with cerebral palsy. You can see a touching video at the bottom of the page.
Gallegos has worked with Nike on the Breaking2 campaign, an effort to help athletes break the two-hour barrier for marathons. He worked closely with Nike pacers like Brett Kirby, the head physiologist in the Nike Research Lab, to help him try and reach his sub-two hour goal.
Gallegos is a member of the University of Oregon’s running club. He’s also been working with Nike to test out a prototype running shoe for people with mobility issues. The shoe has a zipper on the back heel that allows for easier entry into the shoe.
According to Sports Illustrated, Justin finished the Eugene Half Marathon in April in an impressive time of 2 hours, 3 minutes, and 49 seconds, just slightly over his goal of 2 hours. While he’s run shorter distance races in college, the half marathon was the longest distance he’s ever raced. Justin took to Instagram after the April race to express his gratitude for the support he’s received.
“Today I ran and finished my very first half marathon in a time of 2:03:49,” Gallegos wrote on Instagram. “While I did not break two hours, I’m still very proud of my performance today especially for my first half marathon! I had a tremendous support team especially from my pacers who pushed me the entire way! This will be something that I will remember forever, not only setting a record, but showing everyone that it is possible to be limitless! It doesn’t matter what others say or do, your only limit is your mind! Thank you everyone for the continuous support! I hope that this race can show others regardless of if we have a disability or not, there are truly no limits!”
His effort earned him praise and encouragement from fans and supporters, most notably an Instagram post by Eliud Kipchoge, who covered 26.2 miles in 2:00:25 in Breaking2.
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I want to send a big congrats to Justin who set out to achieve a big goal. Justin has cerebral palsy and wanted to run a sub 2hr half marathon and finished in 2:03.49. I am so proud to see Justin breakthrough and not believing in limits. You are an inspiration. Great job!