In his bestselling book, The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Daniel James Brown examines the conundrum of competitive rowing with this quote:

Another paradox lies in the physics of the sport. The object of the endeavor is, of course, to make the boat move through the water as quickly as possible. But the faster the boat goes, the harder it is to row well. The enormously complicated sequence of movements, each of which an oarsman must execute with exquisite precision, becomes exponentially more difficult to perform as the stroke rate increases.

A correlation can be found in the challenges facing competitive rowers and a meeting professional who has scheduled motivational speakers for years. Many times during the speaker needs analysis phase of the scheduling process, The Speaker Experts hear “….we have had tremendous success with astronauts, Everest Speakers, and professional athletes and want a high impact inspirational speaker but we need to draw from new topic areas….” So where do you take your audience when they have been to the top of the world, the bottom of the ocean, the surface of the moon and to the Super Bowl in search of stories of accountability, overcoming adversity, toughness and achievement? Like the challenges faced by The Boys in the Boat, the meeting professional’s speaker selection job becomes tougher when trying to top past podium success while faced with a smaller pool of thematic topic areas from which to choose.

One oft-overlooked genre of speakers in the motivational and inspirational space is that of extreme sports and adventure. There are many neat speaker options and topics in this area that can help the meeting professional leap over the high attendee expectation bar set by past speakers. Here are ten popular “Extreme Sports” general session speakers who will share the secrets of sustained peak performance, achievement and overcoming the toughest of odds with your audience.

Diana Nyad
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Record Breaking Endurance Swimmer


Ben Saunders
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World Record-Breaking Polar Explorer

Robyn Benincasa
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World Champion Eco-Challenge Adventurer

Shaun Tomson
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World Champion Surfer

Mark Allen
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Six Time Ironman Triathlon World Champion
Amy Purdy
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Paralympic Snowboarder & Dancing with the Stars Finalist

Stephen Koch
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Extreme Snowboarder

Mark Schultz
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Mixed Martial Arts Champion

Felix Baumgartner
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Record-Breaking Skydiver & BASE Jumper

David Breashears
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High-Altitude Filmmaker
















































































What these speakers have attempted and achieved is not for the faint of heart, and neither is selecting and scheduling a speaker from this genre. These types of speakers are tremendously popular but finding the right style, story and fit for your audience and meeting theme can be tricky as it is a high risk, high reward subject area. You can contact these speakers directly or through their exclusive representatives by clicking on the provided hyperlinks above, but we strongly suggest you discuss your desired session outcome with a trusted IASB-member speaker bureau before scheduling one of these world class athletes.

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin
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