For most of his 1,800-foot walk on a tightrope over Niagara Falls Friday night, Nik Wallenda took short, steady steps. But once the seventh-generation daredevil saw his family on the Canadian side of the river he sprinted to the finish line to a rousing ovation from the thousands who traveled to witness the daring feat.
“I hope what I do and what I just did inspires people around the world to reach for the skies,” he said afterward, according to the Associated Press.
Wallenda, 33, became the first person to walk on a tightrope across the Niagara Falls. He even brought his passport along for the ride.
The nail-biting spectacle was televised live on ABC for the entire world to see. The network insisted that Wallenda be tethered to keep him from falling into the river, and the daredevil eventually agreed.
He battled strong winds, a blinding mist and the roaring river below during the 30-minute journey that started on United States territory and ended in Canada.
Wallenda’s father was in a production truck nearby, coaching his son through the dangerous walk.
The daredevil was heard on the broadcast praying repeatedly. He even admitted to some fatigue about half-way through the walk. At one point, he said his arms were starting to feel numb.
“There was no way to focus on the movement of the cable,” Wallenda said. “If I looked down at the cable there was water moving everywhere. And if I looked up there was heavy mist blowing in front of my face. So it was a very unique, a weird sensation.”
When Wallenda approached the finish line, he took a knee and gave a wave to the assembled crowd.
He is the seventh-generation member of the famous Flying Wallendas. He said walking across Niagara Falls on a tightrope was a lifetime dream.
Now, he’s in the history books.