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Nik Wallenda walks on tightrope over Niagara Falls

  • 16 Jun 2012
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NIAGARA FALLS, New York (AFP)
Famed tightrope walker Nik Wallenda completed the first walk across Niagara Falls in over a century

Famed tightrope walker Nik Wallenda completed the first walk across Niagara Falls in over a century, braving winds and heavy spray in his historic feat.

Tens of thousands of spectators were packed on the US and Canadian sides of the falls to watch Wallenda, 33, complete the stunt.

Wallenda's walk on a cable suspended 196 feet (60 meters) up over a never-before-traversed rim of the biggest waterfall in North America took under 30 minutes, considerably less than expected.

The acrobat's achievement adds to the lore and legend of the renowned Wallenda family, famous over the decades for jaw-dropping stunts executed from dizzying heights.

With the aid of a long balancing pole, Wallenda, wet from heavy mist kicked up from the Falls, carefully found his footing along the lengthy cable.

The acrobat had a two-way radio and and a small earpiece, and was able to communicate with his father, identified by ABC, the event sponsor, as Terry Troffer.

"This is so physical, not only mental but physical," Wallenda said, in words broadcast directly on ABC. "Fighting the wind isn't easy. I feel my hands are going numb."

Wallenda's father gave him words of encouragement throughout the walk.

"You're doing good. Take your time," said Troffer, which ABC described as the event safety coordinator.

Soon after arriving over land on the Canadian side Wallenda kneeled briefly on the cable and waved at his fans.

The Wallenda name for generations has been the stuff of legend, astonishing audiences first in Europe, then in the United States with their aerial acrobatics.

Their fame really took off in 1978, when they were made the subject of popular made-for-TV movie, "The Great Wallendas."

Any attempt to cross the falls is usually strictly forbidden, but an exception was made for Wallenda, who is descended from a long line of acrobats and circus performers.

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