Special Olympics athlete Chris Nikic has just become the world’s first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon. This historic win has landed him on the Guinness World Records list.
The 21-year-old athlete competed in the Ironman Florida competition in Panama City Beach on Saturday, November 7. The race included a 3.8-metre swim in the Gulf of Mexico, a 180km bicycle ride through Panama City Beach and a full 42.1km marathon run along the beachfront. Nikic finished this gruelling race just under the 17-hour cutoff with a total time of 16 hours, 46 minutes and nine seconds.
It was not an easy ride for Nikic, who suffered an attack by ants during a nutrition stop and fell off of his bike a couple of times.
“With blood dripping from his knee, he jumped right back on in a show of true sportsmanship and grit,” said the Special Olympics in a press statement.
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Bike still in track after 2 incidents: ant 🐜 pile bites and then bike 💥 crash scraped his knee but popped back up and is back in the road. Chris is still on track to finish in time even after losing time to two incidents. Blood 🩸 flowing down his leg makes it more dramatic. He said he thinks he will get more hugs 🤗 @ironmantri @rodsracing @specialolympics
While training for the event, Nikic and his father Nik developed the 1% better principle – get better, faster and stronger by 1% every day.
“To Chris, this race was more than just a finish line and celebration of victory,” said proud dad Nik. “IRONMAN has served as his platform to become one step closer to his goal of living a life of inclusion and leadership.”
His coach Dan added: “I’m no longer surprised by what Chris can accomplish because I recognize who Chris is; a human being who has goals and dreams just like everyone else. He wants to make the path easier for those just like him and can follow his lead.”
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IRONMAN. Goal set and achieved. Time to set a new and BIGGER Goal for 2021. Whatever it is the strategy is the same. 1% Better every day. YES, I did the work but I had angels helping me. God surrounded me with Angels. Best part of all. New family and friends. All about awareness and inclusion. Awareness for Down Syndrome and Special Olympics. Inclusion for all of us with all of you. I’m sorry for not responding personally to all your messages. It’s amazing but overwhelming because I got 33K new followers and messages since yesterday. I will try and catch up. If you want to support my mission for Down Syndrome and Special Olympics go to my website www.ChrisNikic.com because 100% of the donations go to my charities. I achieved my goal and now I want to help others like me. Thank you to @ironmantri and @im_foundation for making it possible. Thank you @specialolympics @specialolympicsfl for starting the triathlon program. Thank you @rodsracing for giving a home to babies like me. I will be thanking so many more people over the coming days. But I must start with the 3 Angels who trained with me and did the race with me. Dan, Jenn and Carlos. #inclusion