Chris Nikic was born to break barriers — and make history.
The 21-year-old has Down syndrome and a determination that knows no limits. Just a few years ago, he started pushing himself to be more active. Now, he has set a world record!
Three years ago, his dad Nik encouraged him to work on becoming 1 percent fitter each day. Back then, Chris wasn’t getting enough exercise, so he agreed and started doing push-ups.
Since then, Chris has turned into an amazing athlete, sweating his way toward his dream goal: finishing an Ironman triathlon!
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On November 7, he competed in Florida’s Visit Panama City Beach Ironman, swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles, and finishing off with a 26.2-mile run.
Beginning at 5:52 a.m., Chris endured a grueling race that lasted 16 hours, 46 minutes, and 9 seconds. He ran the last leg in the dark, but nothing could stop him — not even a cut knee from a bike crash!
.@chrisnikic has 3 miles to go with 50 minutes for the cutoff. His recent two splits were about 14 minutes. We’ll be going live here soon for his final miles on our Facebook page.— IRONMAN Triathlon (@IRONMANtri) November 8, 2020
➡️ https://t.co/yj4DdO0CYS#inclusion #onepercentbetter #anythingispossible pic.twitter.com/zOY9BI5WSh
Less than 14 minutes from the cutoff time, Chris crossed the finish line!
Not only did he achieve his goal, but he’s also going down in history! Guinness World Records officially recognized Chris as the first person with Down syndrome to finish an Ironman triathlon.
“Goal set and achieved,” Chris wrote on Instagram. “Time to set a new and BIGGER goal for 2021.”
It’s official! @SpecialOlympics Florida athlete @ChrisNikic is an IRONMAN 🏃♂️ 🚴 🏊♂️— Special Olympics (@SpecialOlympics) November 8, 2020
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
More important than any medal or title, however, is the fact that Chris will inspire people like him to chase their dreams, no matter how big.
“To Chris, this race was more than just a finish line and celebration of victory,” Nik explained. “Ironman has served as his platform to become one step closer to his goal of living a life of inclusion, normalcy, and leadership. It’s about being an example to other kids and families that face similar barriers, proving no dream or goal is too high. If Chris can do an Ironman, he can do anything.”
So what’s next on the horizon for this champion? The 2022 Special Olympics in Orlando, Florida! With his drive for success, we have no doubt we’ll see him there!
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