Athlete With Downs Syndrome Makes History as First to Finish an Iron Man Race–And Gifts the Medal to His Mom
Registration at 4 pm; 46 minutes; Nine seconds (just 14 minutes before the 17-hour cutoff time), triathlete Chris Nikic did not finish with the fastest time when he recently completed his first Iron Man race, but set a new world record.
This past Saturday, after swimming 2.4 miles, the 21-year-old Floridian covered 112 miles and then ran a 26.2-mile marathon to become the first competitor with Down syndrome to successfully cross the finish line in 42-year history. from the Iron Man Race.
“You have broken barriers by demonstrating without a doubt that anything is possible,” tweeted the official Ironman Triathlon Organization. “We are beyond inspired, and his achievement is a defining moment in Ironman history that can never be taken away from him.”
For his impressive efforts, Nikic also earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first person with Down syndrome to become an official Iron Man.
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“Being the first person with Down syndrome is a great feeling”, Nikic said TODAY, before the event. “I can show children that if I can do it, they can do it too.”
Nikic’s father, Nik, hopes that parents of other children with Down syndrome who see what their son has accomplished will be inspired. “We want you to realize before your child is a blessing and that they can live an amazing life,” he told TODAY.
As important as facing the physical and mental challenges of an Iron Man for Nikic, he had other compelling reasons for entering the competition. He may not have carried a banner, but the message he carried across the finish line was clear.
“For Chris, this race was more than a finish line and a celebration of victory,” said his father. told the BBC. “Ironman has served as a platform for him to get one step closer to his goal of living a life of inclusion, normalcy and leadership. It’s about being an example for other children and families facing similar barriers, showing that no dream or goal is too high … If Chris can do an Ironman, he can do anything. “
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Nikic trained four to six hours a day to prepare for the grueling event, and that training paid off. Even after suffering a fall from his bike during the second leg of the race, he appealed to his inner reserve of strength to recover, keep going and get the job done.
“Goals set and achieved,” Nikic posted to the delight of the social media crew, including 33,000 new followers on Instagram. “It is time to set a new and bigger goal for 2021.”
One of Nikic’s biggest fans, all-time tennis great Billie Jean King, tweeted the perfect response: “No limits. Unlimited. Keep dreaming big and do it Chris! “
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Hoping to compete in the 2022 Special Olympics scheduled on his own home turf in Orlando, it seems Chris Nikic has many big dreams yet to come true.
As for the medal you won for completing one of the toughest triathlons in the world? He gave it to his beloved mother.
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