It’s important to feel proud of yourself. It’s also important not to compare yourself negatively to others. It’s not you vs. the world; it’s you vs. you. But sometimes others can act as inspiration. If you can look at others accomplishments without jealousy, as motivation, then they can be helpful. We hope you will try to keep that in mind as we list off these kids who have accomplished stuff that the prime, adult version of you probably never could.
10. Shane Thomas
Music is full of impressive child prodigies. Mozart, Beethoven, Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber. Go ahead, get mad. Those are the names we’re going with. But, let’s add another less well-known name to the list: Shane Thomas.
Shane is an Irish kid who’s really good at classical music. He started playing piano at age seven, and according to his dad, he could play almost instantly by ear. Now, whether that part is true or not, he’s clearly very talented. You can check out some of his music on his website. He released an album with a “major music publisher” as a teenager. At age 15, he also composed a symphony for the BBC in only 3 weeks.
His dad claims he can write songs while playing computer games, and that many of his compositions come to him in dreams. This sounds made up to us. Maybe his dad should chill out with the mystical claims of greatness? But that’s probably not gonna happen.
Here’s another quote from his dad: “What he’s doing for the BBC’s Music Day is right up there with the capability that Mozart demonstrated as a child prodigy.”
OK. We’re not sure about that, but it is very impressive what he’s accomplished at such a young age. Good job, Shane. But try not to let your dad convince you you’re a god or something.
9. Brighton Zeuner
How old were you the first time you won a medal at the X-Games? Most skaters are probably in their 20s or late teens. Some of you reading probably don’t even have any medals! Slackers. This makes what this teen recently accomplished even more impressive. Brighton is a 13-year-old skater from Encinitas, California, which sounds like the city that all skateboarders come from. We assume everyone there rides their skateboards to work. We bet they pick the leaders of the town through a skateboarding event of some kind. Well, there’s a new sheriff in town, and her name is Brighton Zeuner.
Brighton competed in a X-Games skating event just 12 hours after she turned 13… and she won the gold medal, becoming the youngest gold medalist ever. Make sure you check out just how radical (is that a word skaters still use?) she is in the video above. It’s got some pretty boring commentary, so we recommend you turn on some ’90s rock music in the background instead. We recommend some Goldfinger. Then you should probably go play one of the old Tony Hawk games.
8. Anthony Russo
Plenty of people tell themselves they’re going to run a 5K, or 10K, or whatever… eventually. But they never seem to get around to it. If you’re one of those people, prepare to feel really lazy.
Anthony Russo is one of those people who told themselves they were going to run a half-marathon. The difference between him and most people is that he actually did it. Oh, also, he was 5-years-old at the time, and he was actually pretty fast. He’s the youngest person in the US to complete a half-marathon in under two and a half hours.
According to his parents, he doesn’t see running as work. Apparently, he sees it as fun. He really enjoys running amounts that would have the average adult wheezing like a motion sick General Grievous.
And before the half-marathon, he was happily training like a madman, running up to 40 miles per week. When he was asked about it by a newspaper, he replied, “It’s a cool thing to do.” Most of us would not be interested in running with him, but we admit that it is indeed cool.
7. Carissa Yip
Chess is a game usually dominated by men in their 30s, but 12-year-old Carissa Yip of Massachusetts can beat most of them. Carissa started learning chess from her father at age 6, and she’s been breaking records since she began playing competitively. She’s the youngest person to ever reach the National Master rank, which she achieved at 11. Two years earlier, she was the youngest person to ever reach the title of expert. And right before her 11th birthday, she became the youngest female player to ever beat a grandmaster.
Among girls under 14, she’s already ranked number 1 in the US, and 6th in the world. She also won the North American Under 20 girls championship last year.
She’s apparently so good she doesn’t need to look at the board. She showed an interviewer how she could play with her back to the board, keeping track in her head and telling her dad where to move her pieces. And, in the same spirit, we have decided to write the next paragraph with our backs facing the computer.
Well, that didn’t turn out so well. Guess we need to practice more.
6. Jamie Edwards
Jamie Edwards is a normal teenage boy who happens to dabble in nuclear fission. He calls himself an “amateur nuclear scientist.” At the age of 13, he broke a record, becoming the youngest “fusionner” in history.
What exactly does that mean? It means he got the materials and did the science necessary to carry out atomic fusion. How’d he even have the resources to do that? He showed his school a presentation explaining why he should be allowed to build a nuclear fusion reactor, and they gave him $3,350.
Wait, so he just asked his school for money, and they gave it to him? If we knew about this back in middle school, we’d have probably have become scientists too. Or at least we would have gotten an Xbox a lot earlier.
5. Duo Duo
How old would you guess the world’s youngest pilot is? Somewhere in the teens, probably. Maybe 14? Well, we should probably be safe and go ahead and guess 13. Ok then, 13. And we’d be wrong.
Duo Duo (a nickname) was the world’s youngest pilot at the age of 5. He successfully piloted a plane around 1,000 feet above Beijing, becoming the world’s youngest ever solo pilot.
He’s also done a few other notable things, mostly as a result of his father (Eagle Dad, as he likes to be called) meticulously planning his daily activities. We’ll admit that Eagle Dad’s activities do sound more fun than those usually imposed by Tiger Moms. Duo Duo was also the world’s youngest sailor and was planning to bike through the Tibetan Plateau. And apparently, he’s “the youngest person to start an investment company.”
These accomplishments come at a price, as Duo Duo wakes up at 6:30 a.m., a time usually reserved for birds and old men who still read newspapers.
But, his dad says that he does it because “Chinese parents spoil their child too much.”
His dad might be seen as going too far, but his motivations seem to be mostly good. And also, he’s not totally strict. As Duo Duo says, “On Sunday, I can even watch movies.”
4. Farhad Nouri
If you were a 10-year-old Afghan boy living in a migrant camp in Serbia, what do you think you would spend your time doing? If you said you’d get really good at drawing and painting and acquire the nickname ‘Little Picasso’, you may in fact be Farhad Nouri. Farhad learned some basic art from his father beginning at age 6, but he has recently been learning more by watching YouTube videos.
He says he does plan to draw a portrait of Picasso, and he’s already drawn Angela Merkel, Salvador Dali, and Angelina Jolie. He says that art has helped him to deal with being stuck in the refugee camp. Not surprisingly, he hopes to be a painter when he grows up and wants to live in Switzerland or the US. He hasn’t won any awards or anything, but there probably aren’t many to be had for a 10-year-old in Serbia. His work is quite impressive, especially considering his circumstances. Good job, Farhad.
3. Lots of Golfers
Golf is a game for retired people, right? Well, that’s the stereotype. It is a game that can be played at an older age than most, it usually takes money to play (which old people have), and if you play a round you’ll probably see some grandparents out there.
But of course there are exceptions. Almost everyone’s heard of Tiger Woods, who at age 2 went on The Mike Douglas Show, then at age 8 was invited on Good Morning America to show off his skills, and later became the youngest ever Masters champion at the age of 21, a time when many of us were most well known for how many beers we could chug.
Maybe you’ve also heard of Michelle Wie, who started playing at age 4 and joined the LPGA when she was only 12. She later became the youngest USGA Champion in an adult event. She turned professional shortly before her 16th birthday. She later attended Stanford, but was not allowed on the golf team as she was already a pro.
There are several other young golfers we could highlight, but there’s not enough room in this article for all of them. So we’re just going to include a link to one at random. And the winner is… Shubham Jaglan, a 13-year-old who has already won 100 tournaments, including the Junior World Golf Championship.
So, we guess the lesson here is that even if a competition is meant for older people, that doesn’t mean you can’t start earlier if you want. We’re excited to soon hear about the 8-year-old World Knitting Championship winner.
2. Tyler Armstrong
What did this kid do? Did he run a 4 minute mile? No. Is he a professional hockey player? Nope, sorry. OK, last guess: he boxes kangaroos. Please tell us he fights kangaroos.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t have time for kangaroos… because he’s spending his time climbing up freaking mountains.
He started out back when he was seven, when he decided to climb over 14,500 feet up Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the US outside of Alaska. He climbed it in one day, and was the youngest person to do so. The year after that, he became the second youngest human to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. And then, at 9-years-old, he became the youngest ever to climb 22,841 feet up Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, the tallest mountain in both the western and southern hemisphere.
Wait a second… do they just let anyone climb mountains? Are there not rules about this? Actually, there are. Tyler just doesn’t care. Mount Kilimanjaro’s normal age limit is 10, but he applied for a special permit to head up a year early, and they said yes. So, we guess the lesson here is that if you don’t like a rule, just ask and they’ll let you break it. He did the same thing with Aconcagua. The limit there is 14, but he asked for permission, so they let him climb it five years early. Maybe we should have applied for a drinking permit at age 16.
So, why’s he climbing mountains? Just for fun? He’s doing it to raise money and awareness about Duchenne, a kind of muscular dystrophy. To describe why he’s doing it, Tyler said, “They can’t walk, and that’s like the opposite of me … I want them to climb with me when we find a cure.”
1. Kim Jong-un
Yes, that’s right. Kim Jong-un was a multitalented child prodigy with near magical levels of ability. At least, that’s what students in North Korea are learning. In 2015, teachers were issued manuals that list many of Kim’s great accomplishments. We’ll let you decide whether this manual should be trusted, but if so, Kim was one truly amazing kid.
According to the books, Kim learned to drive at the age of 3 and was winning yacht races by the time he was 9. Apparently, he even won a race against a foreign yacht company CEO. He’s also supposedly a great artist and musical composer.
These claims are somewhat hard to believe, but they’re nothing compared to the claims about his father. Kim Jong-il, according to official North Korean doctrine, wrote 1,500 books during his time in college and also penned six operas, “all of which are better than any in the history of music.”
He also once golfed a 38 under par, making 11 holes in one. And here’s the catch: he never golfed before that and he never golfed after that. That’s right, that was the one and only time he picked up a golf club. Truly incredible and inspiring. What a family!