21-Year-Old Chris Nikic Becomes First Ironman Finisher With Down's Syndrome

Edward Cooper
·3-min read

From Men's Health

Chris Nikic, a 21-year-old triathlete from Florida, has become the first person with Down's syndrome to cross the finish line at an Ironman event. For those of you that don't know, that's swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles and running a 26.2-mile marathon.

Despite having been diagnosed with Down's syndrome, a genetic condition that can cause varying degrees of learning disability and slower physical development, Nikic crossed the line of Florida's Visit Panama City Beach Ironman in 16 hours 46 minutes nine seconds, beating the course cut-off time by 14 minutes. His feat earned official recognition from Guinness World Records, having been the first athlete with Down's syndrome to finish an Ironman triathlon.

Nikic's efforts this weekend received support from around the world, after a Tweet circulated showing his father, Nik Nikic, putting running shoes on his son's feet, proudly declaring "you are almost an Ironman buddy. You're two thirds of an Ironman".

"To Chris, this race was more than just a finish line and celebration of victory," said his father. "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." (Continued below)

Nikic's journey started around three years ago, when his father encouraged him to become one per cent fitter every day, after noticing his son had become increasingly sedentary. Training started with one press-up.

With 33,000 new followers on Instagram, Nikic has since been labelled a "superstar" and has inspired thousands of children with Down's syndrome, as well as their parents.

Posting after his Ironman event, Nikic proudly said "Goal set and achieved. Time to set a new and bigger goal for 2021."

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