ETSU student unofficially breaks push up record

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Dec 14, 2018 at 9:19 PM

Darack Nanto dreamed of being in the Guinness Book of World Records as a middle school student in his home country of Togo.

Now as an ETSU graduate student, Nanto may have finally fulfilled his dream. He did 86 pushups in one minute at the Basler Center for Fitness on the ETSU campus Friday evening.

It is unofficially a new world record, breaking the old mark of 84 set by Rain Chua Qin in Singapore on February 18.

ETSU trainer Curtis Souksavong took video of the event and is in the process of turning in the time certification, witness accounts and videos (including slow-motion video) to the Guinness folks before it is officially recognized.

For Nanto, it was a huge sense of accomplishment after he did thousands of pushups over the past couple of months to get ready for the challenge. He chose to do the diamond pushup because it was the one he struggled with the most.

“That was the ultimate dream for me,” Nanto said. “As a middle school student I remember looking through those 2005 and 2006 Guinness Book of World Records. Now after all my training, I was like, ‘Hey, why don’t I try to break the record?’ Since the diamond push up was my weakest, I took that on because it was personal to me.”

He requested silence during the attempt, but afterward was showered with cheers from a room full of friends and supporters. It was a journey for Nanto, who explained he wanted the silence for the intense focus required.

He was physically ready at 5-foot-10 and 192 pounds. He last checked in with nine percent body fat a year ago, but clearly has taken that number down since then. Beyond the pushups, he’s training to represent his country in the skeleton event at the next Winter Olympics.

“You have to get your body ready for that,” Nanto said about the challenge. “After you’re doing the diamond pushups so fast in one minute, you’re feeling the lactic acid and your body is getting sore. That’s the hardest part physically, getting where you’re numb to it and your body is so used to it.”

Still, the physical challenge wasn’t the toughest part. He tried to keep count of how many pushups during training, but in the record-setting attempt, he just focused on pushing and going through the motions.

Nanto ended with 88 pushups before two were automatically disqualified from him collapsing on the ground. Thirty minutes after the challenge, he said he felt good, although pushing himself so hard, he knew a good night’s sleep was in order.

“I was pushing myself to just do it,” he said. “The mental part was the toughest. I’ve been training for the physical part, but the mental part, my body was trying to give up after 75 or 80 pushups, but I had to push through. I was like, ‘I’m not falling down. I’m going to keep going.’

“I wanted to do this to represent Togo, but also to represent ETSU. I’ve been going to ETSU for six years since my undergrad, and now I’m finishing up my Masters certificate in Business Administration. So many people from different departments came to support me. Even though I’m from Togo, ETSU is like my home.”

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