A 21-year-old Florida man has made history by becoming the first person with Down syndrome to complete the Ironman triathlon. Chris Nikic managed to just beat the 17-hour cut-off time, completing the gruelling race in 16 hours and 46 minutes and inspiring millions of people around the world with his incredible athleticism.
- This triathlon is back-breaking. It requires participants to swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles (a whole marathon!) within the 17-hour cut-off time, which is mind-blowing. I don’t think I could even do one of those things at that time, but Chris did!
- Ironman Florida congratulated Chris for his achievement on Facebook. “You have shattered barriers while proving without a doubt that Anything is Possible!” they wrote. “We are beyond inspired, and your accomplishment is a defining moment in IRONMAN history that can never be taken away from you.”
- Doctors never would have expected Chris to be able to do this. As he and his father told the Orlando Sentinel, the bar was set incredibly and unfairly low for Chris simply because he was different. “From the time he was born, we were told by everyone that he’d never do anything or amount to anything or be able to accomplish anything [beyond] being able to tie his own shoes,” Chris’ dad, Nik Nikic, revealed. “And we believed them for the longest time.” Thank goodness they know better now!
- He has overcome so many challenges in life. Chris had surgery to repair two holes in his heart when he was only five months old and he needed to use a walker at age three. He had more surgery on his ears at age 16 and had to take a long break from physical activity to recover. However, these challenges have only made him stronger. Look at him now!
- Chris has trained long and hard for this challenge. In January 2018, he decided to join a Special Olympics Triathlon training program that really pushed him to his physical limits. However, he eventually got so advanced that he required a professional trainer, which is when he teamed up with 16-time Ironman participant Dan Grieb. The rest, as they say, is history.
Chris made history as the 1st person with Down syndrome to finish the full triathlon. His feat landed him in the Guinness World Records & inspired so many around the world! #Choosetoinclude #IMFL pic.twitter.com/OiiqnDSbEu
— Special Olympics (@SpecialOlympics) November 8, 2020
— IRONMAN Triathlon (@IRONMANtri) November 9, 2020
— IRONMAN Triathlon (@IRONMANtri) November 7, 2020