Human Interest

Teen with Down syndrome defies odds as he prepares to run London Marathon


Update 4/23/24: Lloyd Martin successfully completed the London Marathon on April 21, setting a world record as the youngest person in the intellectual impairment category to complete a marathon.

Lloyd called the achievement “absolutely amazing.”

“Really anything is possible if you put your mind to it,” he said. “With a bit of work, you can achieve it.”

4/15/24: When her son was born with Down syndrome and a heart condition, Ceri Hooper was told “that he might not be able to walk, to talk, feed himself and that there could be so many challenges to overcome.” Today, at 19 years old, that same son, Lloyd Martin, is preparing to run in the London Marathon on April 21st.

Ceri is an athlete herself and so was Lloyd’s father. When she found out her son had Down syndrome, she immediately decided that she wouldn’t let his disability be an obstacle to his dreams. She registered Lloyd for sports at a young age, just like his peers. Despite the doctor’s grim predictions, Lloyd showed a gift for athletics, just like the other members of his family.


Now Lloyd is taking on his biggest challenge ever in running the London Marathon. He grew up on the sidelines, watching his mother run this race, and last fall decided he wanted to join her in 2024. Even with his heart condition, Lloyd got the green light from his doctor to run a marathon. At that point, Lloyd had only ever run a 5K. His mother always believed in him, though, and they began training together. Lloyd has come a long way, and is more than ready to tackle 26.2 miles.

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Being diagnosed with a disability such as Down syndrome is often seen as a death sentence, and many parents are convinced that their child will have a very low quality of life.

“We were given so many negative scenarios of what life could be like for Lloyd,” said Ceri. Unlike Ceri, many parents are so afraid of this diagnosis that nearly 90% of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the UK in 2021 were aborted, despite the fact that most people with the syndrome go on to live full, happy lives.

There is so much focus on the negative effects of Down syndrome that not many know the advantages that come with the condition. For example, Lloyd’s mother shared: “Like many other children with Down syndrome, he was flexible and he could do the splits as a toddler.” This gift helped Lloyd to excel at gymnastics, one of his favorite sports. In addition to his upcoming marathon, Lloyd is a Special Olympics Great Britain Athlete, where he has flourished as a gymnast and football player.

Lloyd will be the youngest person with Down syndrome to ever complete a full marathon. Guinness World Records even created a new category for him in anticipation of Lloyd’s success, so his record can be official.

Lloyd shared this heartwarming message with BBC news: “If I beat my time… it doesn’t matter. It’s not about the timing… Don’t take your dreams out of you. Put the dreams in you and think about what you can do, because anything is possible.”

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