Nike has made history this week. The sportswear brand have announced their newest collaboration with Justin Gallegos, the first athlete with cerebral palsy to be signed with the brand.
Justin Gallegos was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a congenital disorder that affects your movement, speech, and motor skills. But that hasn’t stopped him. Gallegos took up distance running as a 14-year-old, representing his high school in track and field. After being accepted to the University of Oregon, he continued running and has his sights set on running a half marathon in under 2 hours.
Nike released a video announcing the collaboration this week.
While Gallegos is currently under a confidentiality agreement regarding the full terms of his contract with Nike, he did take to Instagram to express his excitement at the news.
“This was perhaps the most emotional moment in my seven years of running,” Gallegos wrote on Instagram.
“Growing up with a disability, the thought of becoming a professional athlete is as I have said before like the thought of climbing Mt. Everest!”
The media have come under a lot of scrutiny for their under-representation of sportspeople with a disability. At the time of the 2016 Paralympics, Vogue Brazil used able-bodied models in a shoot to represent the Paralympic athletes. The magazine used models who were not disabled, but edited their bodies to turn them into amputees. This was a particularly low point for media representation of sportspeople with a disability.
The contract between Nike and Gallegos, and the accompanying video, is a small yet significant step in improving the representation of sportspeople with a disability in the widespread media. Nike have represented Gallegos as strong and able, and emphasised that running and sport is not about your legs or body, but about your mind and determination.
Follow Justin Gallegos’ journey on his Instagram, and watch on with the rest of the world as he makes his attempt at completing the half marathon in under 2 hours.
The best part? Justin’s announcement was made on World Cerebral Palsy Day. What an exciting time for sportspeople around the globe.