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Newry’s Damien Rooney ‘turns up pressure’ on fifth World Record chin-up attempt

It's clear that beating the record has become somewhat of a person quest of Damien's; reluctant to let it slip through his grasp, he has ramped up the pressure this year as an added incentive...

A personal trainer and retired professional martial artist from Newry is ‘turning up the pressure’ ahead of his fifth Guinness World Record attempt.

Damien Rooney (40) is set to challenge the current record of 4,649 chin-ups completed inside a 12 hour period from his home gym on July 6, 2024.

And he’s well equipped for the challenge – Damien is no stranger to keeping his chin up!

The ambitious fitness-fanatic has previously undertaken four Guinness World record attempts for most chin-ups completed in 24 hours. All four sadly failed due to various injuries.

But, despite this, his determination remains intact.

Speaking to Armagh I, Damien described his failed efforts: “The previous four attempts I had gone for the 24 hour record and each time I was ahead of the pace but suffered an injury.

“At the time I think the record was for 5,340 and it’s now 7,449. But in my first attempt I had 14 hours done before I tore my bicep. I was at 3,505 so I was well on pace.

“Then I tore my pec and the third attempt I suffered heat exhaustion as I did it on one of the Julys when there was a heatwave at around 27 degrees. Then, the fourth time my forearms became so inflamed I couldn’t close my hands.”

Whilst the injuries set him off for a period of time in recovery and rehab, it wasn’t long before he was back in training.

Said Damien: “I have trained obviously for six years towards this. I’ve done a lot of chin-ups pre this effort. Since 2018 I’ve done over 400,000 chin-ups in training.

“With repetition your body does adjust and become accustomed to that strain. I have definitely improved over the years.”

The idea to take on the 12 hour challenge – as opposed to the 24 hour – may seem like a back step. But, for Damien, it’s strategic.

“Why I’ve decided to go for the 12 hours this time is because I have seen that my body on four attempts has done the 12 hours – it has failed post-12 hours,” he explained.

“Years of fighting and training in that sense had obviously left with me past injuries to work around so I’ve been struggling around the 14, 15, 16 hour mark. So up to the 12 hour mark I was still injury free per se so I know I can do that. I just need to turn up the tempo.”

With six years of training, four failures and several serious injuries, one might wonder why he persists.

Damien explains: “I’m just an insane person who doesn’t want to be beaten.

“I’m a very competitive and driven person. Going pro, you’re going into a sport that’s heavily competitive and heavily driven and heavily individual. Whilst I have a very good support network, on the day you’re in an individual activity and it’s just you – that’s it.

“I know I can do this. I know it may seem naive or stupid but I do believe I can do it.”

It’s clear that beating the record has become somewhat of a personal quest for Damien; reluctant to let it slip through his grasp, he has ramped up the pressure this year as an added incentive…

He said: “I’m not looking for a lot of attention and I know it seems a bit ridiculous but I’m not doing it for anybody else.

“I kept quiet in the previous attempts because I wasn’t looking for notoriety or promotion – and I’m still not. But after the last one I sat down with my wife and I said to her the number [record] had got so astronomical that this is just crazy now and I can’t leave it.

“So, I’ll stick myself right up there and document a year of training and put myself out there so if I crash and burn everyone is going to see it. I’m turning up the pressure so much to act as an accountability or an extra incentive.

“It’s a dangerous tool because you’re making an already very stressful event even more stressful with the added pressure. But it’s also to do a service to the charity you’re raising funds for – you need to be putting yourself out there.”

With all eyes now on the hopeful record-breaker, Damien is taking advantage of some extra attention by raising funds for The Brain Injury Foundation – a charity who have provided unwavering support to Damien and his family after his father suffered a severe brain injury 10 years ago.

The plans are in motion, Guinness World Record red tape is being navigated and his personal target of 4,700 chin-ups is set.

All that remains is for Damien to keep the pace on the day and smash through the 4,649 ceiling – injury free, all being well!

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