Guinness World Records: Juan Ruiz

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Juan Ruiz' and Justin Louchart's Intriguing Account

Juan: When I arrived at the Guinness studios On April 6th, I did not know what to expect. The only thing I was thinking is time to practice for 2 days [before the night of filming]. Surprise! The obstacles are not yet done - not even one. So now I don't know what a finished obstacle sounds like, and I am supposed to practice. The answer was simple - grab a couple of humans to pose as obstacles. Lol. They were brave souls to trust that I wasn't going to plow into them [on my borrowed bike]. I arranged my participants at different distances So I could get an idea of what I would be able to accomplish, and this is where humans came to good use. I did not have to move the obstacles; they had legs.

Justin: My experience with Guinness World Records Italy was one of intrigue. Few things in life can compare to the hustle and bustle of a network television studio.

Juan: After practice I went to lunch and wore drobe to be fitted with sporty clothes for the show. I had a good laugh; the two girls in the dressing room asked if I wanted them to stay while I changed ...

Justin: The first thing I notice at Guinness is the network administrators are willing to do jumping jacks for an hour in hell before letting any of the three blind people go anywhere alone.

Juan: All in all that [first] day I only practiced for about an hour and a half, and only with five people posing as obstacles max.

The next day on april 7th, I arrived to the studio and expected my objects to be ready for me to practice. I was wrong. They only had four of them. So, I practiced with the four pipe obstacles and one human obstacle. When it came to the practice run of the show [later that evening], they finally had all ten pipe obstacles ready. So, I go on stage with my interpreter, and was taken to the starting point. I was excited! After the count down, I [rode] to the first pole with no problem, then the second, and by the third I realized that The pole was not in a pattern that I'd practiced. I was in for something else! The poles were in all directions and at different distances from each other. At about the sixth pole I encounter it with my bike, and I am afraid it is going to fall. I made a face and cursed under my breath, because I thought it was over, but nobody said a thing, so I proceeded around the pole and continued. When I completed the course I was told It took fifty three seconds. I was not thrilled at all because I hit a pole, and decided that I would not be content if I was to hit a pole on the actual day that we filmed. So, now it was time to demand practice.

That night of the seventh I slept all of 4 ours and not at one time. I was worried - beginning to understand the importance of the task at hand. Less than a day from performing the record on television, I had already hit a pole during the practice run. If I hit even one out of the ten poles, I might as well consider myself a failure, since most people would remember that one pole that I hit more than the ones that I avoided. I also knew that I was going to be given one minute to address anything that I wanted to with six million viewers. I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders, because I realized that that one minute of speaking was equally as important as performing the record. I had two options with my speech: either I am entertaining, funny, and sarcastic like always, or I make a difference in a country by giving an inspirational speech. I decided to go with inspirational for the first time in my life.

Justin: waiting for Team Ruiz to miraculously become, not just Team Ruiz, but now the Italian symbol of hope in the blindness community. (No pressure!)

Juan: With a massive headache and very little sleep, I began to fall apart. It was the day of the filming, and I felt like krap. Once I got to the studio I went through the routine dressing up, makeup to make me look pretty, and hair due. After that I emphasized the importance to practice, and so they brought 4 poles. I pushed through my headache and practiced for about an hour with different configurations of the poles. Total success! I was not going to let the judges surprise me again! I was Physically and mentally ready to take their chalange.

I went to take a nap before the recording, because my head was really hurting. When I woke up I had a clear idea what my speech was going to consist of. I was the third act and I couldn't wait. I wanted to perform before my headache returned.

Justin: Juan goes onto the stage with Luigi (yes, his name really is Luigi) and Juan strides confidently up to the host of the show.

Juan: The time had come! I walked out stage with my interpreter, and was handed my bicycle.

Justin: Looking back on it it's distinctly possible that Juan was somehow flashier than normal ... They say hello, the translator translates, they ask about Juan's blindness, he insists that he truly is blind, they don't believe him, he re-insists, they re-disbelieve, he re-re-insists, he gets on a bike; at some point the audience inexplicably starts going wild -

Juan: I began to ride, and the croud went wild. Consequently, I ran into a pole before I got to the presenter. I was very unhappy, and made sure to point out that the croud needed to be silent for me to perform.

Justin: Juan scolds them like schoolchildren -

Juan: The presenter assured me that it would be, and that the croud was just going too wild for the presentation. I agreed, and asked for a re-take, so that I could set myself to not fail.

The re-take was perfect. I rode up to the presenter with no problem. He asked me how I was able to ride a bike. I answered that it was by using a technique called FlashSonar in the way that batts and Dolphins do. I demonstrated the difference of sound when something is in front of you as opposed to when it wasn't. He asked me about how I played soccer. I responded that I liked to participate in all the activities that other children were participating in when I was younger, and it was just a matter of adapting the activity. I put the ball in a bag so that it would make lots of noise - a simple technique but very functional, even more than a ball with bells inside. I said that a visually impaired individual or anybody can accomplish whatever they please; we can do anything we set our mind to. All we need to do is find a way. I also said that if we do not try, we won't succeed, and that if you don't ask, you won't get. I was asked who Daniel kish is, and I answered that he was the person who taught me echo location. Daniel Kish is the President of the organization that I work for. We travel all over the world teaching echo location and helping individuals to learn how to see with sound. Then, they showed a video of me riding a bike on city streets, and a pretty impressive shot of me riding between a moving car and a parked car. Then, they asked me if I had a message to the world.

This Was my message: "This obstacle course is not just poles; it represents a goal, and the bigger our goals, the more obstacles we will face. And, if you should fail, you just pick yourself up and try again. But, at the end we will experience victory!"

Justin: Juan's speech was perfect. He started it with Daniel Kish, he emphasized World Access for the Blind, and he used the stage setup as an analogy for life. Obstacles aren't limits, they're obstacles. He paused in the right places; he made the right jokes.

Juan: The crowd went wild, and I could not finish my speech. Then, I was told to go back to the starting line. I had no idea where it was. I started walking backwards on the bike, and was told to turn around because the beginning was quite far.

Once at the starting line the count down began, and I took off! I found the first pole quite fast and the second one as well, but the third was not where I expected; I had to really search for it. I knew I was in for a surprise! Every pole after was an adventure, and I almost crashed into one.

Justin: he clicks, he rides, he clicks, he rides, he rides some more, he clicks some more -

Juan: I was losing control of my bike but gained it back fast.

Justin: and after forty-X seconds he's the official winner of a Guinness World Record!

Juan: I threw my bike down and jumped for joy with my arms in the air! The rest was a blurr. The croud went wild [again], and I could barely hear myself think.

After coming off stage I was rushed to another media crew from Poland who immediately began to interview me. I spoke about no limits attitude and do not remember the rest frankly.

I was told that people were crying because of my speech, and the employees who have been working for Guinness for years had never seen anything like my performance. At that point I realized that I delivered a speech that was equally if not more important than my world record. I still don't understand the significance of a world record, but I do understand the significance of my speech.

Fastest 10 obstacle slalom on bicycle - blindfolded

Guinness World Records: Italy - April 8, 2011

Juan was invited by Guinness Italy to set a record of his choosing.
"The fastest time to slalom through 10 obstacles randomly placed on a 20 m (66 ft) course without using the sense of sight is 48.34 sec and was achieved by blind from birth Juan Ruiz using echolocation on the set of Lo Show Dei Record, in Milan, Italy"
"I still don't understand the significance of a world record, but I do understand the significance of my speech."

Fastest 10 obstacle slalom on bicycle - blindfolded

Guinness World Records: Turkey - July 23, 2013

Juan went on by invitation of Guinness Turkey to cut his Italian record nearly in half.
"The fastest time to slalom through 10 obstacles randomly placed on a 20 m (66 ft) course without using the sense of sight is 25.43 sec and was achieved by blind from birth Juan Ruiz using echolocation on the set of 'Guinness World Records - Rekorlar Dunyasi', in Istanbul, Turkey."