Heart of A Champion


Having a heart condition can make it difficult to participate in sports, but it doesn’t make it impossible.

Niall McGuinness, suffered from several heart failures. Hear his inspiring story of courage, determination and perseverance in continuing to do what he loves. With a never-say-die attitude join him as he trains for the BINTAN TRIATHLON 2019 and IRONMAN 70.3 BINTAN.

“…Most (people) think triathlons and marathons are impossible for “normal” people. But we are all the same. We can all do it. I did it with half a heart. Sometimes all we need is the RIGHT friend to encourage us. If I can do it, ANYONE CAN!!! Simple as that…”



I was diagnosed with heart failure and my heart stopped for 30 seconds. I underwent cardioversion twice before my heartbeat went back to normal. The doctor, then, said I had only 5 years to live. This was 10 years ago. In the span of 5 years, I learned how to walk again and managed to get my heart pump function back up to 90%.

February 2017

Almost 2 years ago, I took part in my very first race. It was a 16.8km charity run. Although it was painful and I had done it slowly, I completed it. It was then I promised to myself that I would do a marathon at least once in my life. This was where it all began.

I signed up for a duathlon in MALAYSIA in 2017 thinking it would be easier because I loved cycling. Much to my surprise, it had been extremely tough, from having cramps to just pure exhaustion. But, my heart handled everything.

I completed the duathlon in MALAYSIA  realising that my heart and I, was stronger than I thought and that these races were not as impossible as they seem.

October 2017

I built myself up for a marathon in Indonesia in 2017 and completed it as well. Kept an eye on my heart rate and was in a good condition – excluding my legs, but legs heal.

My resting heart rate managed to drop to about 56bpm the week after the marathon. I was so relaxed, it was great.

I was still taking my beta blocker pills – reduces my blood pressure – here. However, I noticed that the more I exercised the stronger my heart got. A stronger heart meant that more blood is pumped with less effort thus lowering my blood pressure naturally. I was getting better.

March 2018 – My First Triathlon

I was invited by my friend, Mike, to take part in a triathlon with him. I was unwilling at first because I was scared of the water but he managed to convince me to try a “small (simple)” one, the TRIATHLON BUDDIES INDONESIA 2018 (400M swim – 22KM bike – 5KM run).

I got into the swimming pool to train. I was able to hold my breath for a short while, swim breast stroke, stand up and then go again. To be honest, I was scared to swim in the deeper end. This was two weeks before the competition, what was I thinking.

Nevertheless, I persevered through the training and learned I could swim on my back. I thought, I just had to get the swim out of the way and the rest of the course would be easy.

Fast forward to race day, I completed it! I swam on my back and tried so hard not to panic because I kept crashing into people and getting in their way. I was so scared.

May 2018 – Bintan Triathlon 2018

I was more comfortable with the water after that race. I created my own funky version of the breast stroke and slowly but surely I trained myself up for the BINTAN TRIATHLON, SPRINT DISTANCE race.

This was where I met (MetaSport) Donna, Guy and his wife. I was so impressed with the organisation of the races as opposed to the local Indonesian ones. Joining the Bintan Triathlon, gave me the opportunity to race in the ocean for the first time since my 5 year old trauma. (Talk about throwing oneself in the deep end haha) The race was great and I loved it.

Mike also participated in the Bintan Triathlon and it was his first OLYMPIC DISTANCE. He was an animal there.

My First Olympic Distance Pt. 1

I had my first Olympic Distance triathlon coming up and I told Mike I had to cancel it because of my condition. I said I’d still be in Bali with him to cheer him on.

In the next couple of days, thoughts about this triathlon being my one and only opportunity to compete in an Olympic Distance before I died kept crossing my mind. (Sounds exaggerated but it was what I truly felt)

Two weeks later after much rest, I decided I would just do the race… very slowly.

I went to Bali and surprised Mike. It was the first time my girl decided to come along and watch me race as well. She was petrified, with thoughts that I would drown in the middle of the ocean. (Haha bless her)

My First Olympic Distance Pt. 2

1.5KM Swim is extremely far for someone (me) who swims in breast stroke and who is a heart failure patient. I did it as slow as I could but still collapsed to my knees as I got out of the water.

I got up and step by step walked to the transition zone. I waited and rested for 9 minutes before I started the bike segment. Cycling was tough. I had no energy left for my run but giving up was something I would never do. So, I ran. I plodded through the run course, neither walked nor stopped. Alas, at 3:29, I finally completed my first Olympic Distance Triathlon.

We did it, I did it.

Present 2018

Since then I went through hell medically. Doctors were experimenting with medications for me etc. Despite that, I am finally on the mend. It’s amazing and I am so happy to be alive.

I promise you, I WILL do the IRONMAN 70.3 BINTAN 2019 and this time I won’t do it unhealthily. I’ll be doing it while being strong and healthy!

Anyone can do what I do. I’m not special. We live in a world of humans that are like sheep. They follow the main crowd… Where most think triathlons and marathons are impossible for “normal” people.

But we are all the same. We can all do it. I did it with half a heart. Sometimes all we need is the RIGHT friend to encourage us.

If I can do it, ANYONE CAN!!! Simple as that.


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