‘God surrounded me with angels’: man with Down syndrome makes history in Ironman triathlon

Chris Nikic (PHOTO: Facebook Screenshot/Ironman).

By Andrea Morris — Originally published in CBN News

A Florida man with Down syndrome is showing the world that no goal is too big to pursue, even when you have a disability. 

Chris Nikic from Maitland became the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon on November 7. He wrote on Instagram that “God surrounded me with Angels” and that it was “all about awareness and inclusion. Awareness for Down Syndrome and Special Olympics. Inclusion for all of us with all of you.”

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In a Facebook post, Ironman congratulated the champion adding that he has “shattered barriers while proving without a doubt that Anything is Possible! The opportunities you have created for others around the world through this journey you embarked upon, is immeasurable.”

The 21-year-old swam 3.86km, biked 180.25 km and ran 42.2km in Panama City Beach, Florida, and finished 14 minutes before the time limit. Nikic and his guide, Dan Grieb finished the challenge together.

The newly named Ironman was also added to the Guinness World Records list.

“It’s an honour to welcome Chris into the Guinness World Records fraternity as the first athlete with Down syndrome to complete an IRONMAN,” said Guinness Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday. “I look forward to seeing what more is in store from this remarkable young man.”

And he’s not finished. Nikic wrote that it was “time to set a new and BIGGER Goal for 2021.”

To keep up the encouragement while training, Chris and his father Nik created the 1% better principle – to become better, faster, and stronger by 1% every day. 

“To Chris, this race was more than just a finish line and celebration of victory,” he said. “Ironman has served as his platform to become one step closer to his goal of living a life of inclusion, normalcy, and leadership.” 

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