Man Makes History as First Person with Down Syndrome to Complete an Ironman Triathlon
Last Saturday, Chris Nikic became the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon. The Special Olympics athelete was recognized in the Guiness World Records after he finished a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-marathon run at the Ironman Florida competition in Panama City Beach.
Nikic finished the race in 16 hours 46 minutes and 9 seconds, which was 14 minutes under the 17-hour cutoff time. “Ironman. Goal set and achieve,” he said in a post to Instagram. “Time to set a new and Bigger Goal for 2021.”
The Ironman Triathlon organization documented the historic race with a series of updates on Nikic’s progress on social media. The final two miles of Nikic’s run were streamed live on Ironman’s Facebook page.
Nikic trained for the race with his father, Nik, where they developed a “1 percent better challenge” to stay motivated. According to Nikic’s website, this motto is to promote Down syndrome awareness while achieving 1 percent improvement every day. “To Chris, this race was more than just a finish line and celebration of victory,” Nik Nikic told CNN. “Ironman has served as his platform to become one step closer to his goal of living a life of inclusion and leadership.”
What’s next for Nikic? He plans on competing in the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games and continuing to raise money for Special Olympics, Down syndrome, and RODS (Racing for Orphans with Down Syndrome). “I achieved my goal and now I want to help others like me,” Nikic said on Instagram.