Chris Nikic becomes first person with Down syndrome to complete Ironman triathlon

Screen Shot 2020 11 12 at 9.26.02 AM.0 - Chris Nikic becomes first person with Down syndrome to complete Ironman triathlon

The 21-year-old gave us the best sports story of the year.

The Ironman triathlon is one of the most taxing sporting events in human history, and this past weekend history was made. Special Olympian Chris Nikic, at 21 years old, entered the Guinness Book of World Records by becoming the first person with Down Syndrome to complete the event.

Nikic completed the race in 16 hrs, 46 minutes and 9 seconds. That might sound like a long time on paper, but consider just how ludicrous the Ironman is. The race starts with a 2.4 mile ocean swim, which sounds bad enough in its own right. Then competitors hit the road for a 112 mile bike ride. At this point your brain has collapsed from how sore you’d be. Finally, because the Ironman isn’t torture enough, competitors complete a full 26.2 mile marathon run.

It’s considered the pinnacle of sports challenges, and Nikic conquered it.

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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 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

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Nikic had been training for the race for the last year, and promised on his Instagram page that he’s working toward a bigger challenge in 2021. But, outside of personal sports challenges, he has a far greater goal than completing a race.

“All about awareness and inclusion,’’ he wrote. “Awareness for Down Syndrome and Special Olympics. Inclusion for all of us with all of you.”

Nikic became the star of the race. Ironman isn’t typically an event that garners much attention, but when people became aware of the feat they started watching in droves. Race organizers live streamed the final two miles of Nikic’s marathon run, shining a spotlight on the incredible athlete.

The 21-year-old isn’t resting on his laurels. Nikic is using the newfound fame to direct people to his personal website, where they can purchase merchandise, with 100 percent of the profits going towards various charities that support the Special Olympics, and people with Down Syndrome.

There’s been so much negativity in sports this year that I want to say thank you to Chris Nikic, for giving us something truly wonderful to celebrate. Also congratulations for an achievement that will echo in history.

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