Chris Nikic Becomes First Person With Down Syndrome To Complete An Ironman

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Chris Nikic raised his arms with about 50 yards remaining in his 140.6 mile journey to complete Ironman Florida, becoming the first person with Down Syndrome to complete an Ironman. The 21-year-old completed the course in 16 hours, 46 minutes, and took his place in the record books. This Ironman had trouble walking up until he was four years old and had open-heart surgery at five months old, yet there he was late Saturday doing the unthinkable.

Nikic swam 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles and ran 26.2 miles. “The opportunities you have created for others around the world through this journey you embarked upon, is immeasurable. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your remarkable life story and we can’t wait to see what you achieve next,” the official Ironman Facebook page wrote about Nikic’s accomplishment.

Follow Chris Nikic’s final 2 miles as he becomes the first athlete with Down syndrome to complete an IRONMAN here at Visit Panama City Beach IRONMAN Florida! #inclusion #onepercentbetter #IMFL

Posted by IRONMAN on Saturday, November 7, 2020

“IRONMAN. Goal set and achieved. Time to set a new and BIGGER Goal for 2021. Whatever it is the strategy is the same,” Nikic wrote on Instagram. “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.”

Chris’s father came up with the 1% better philosophy that has turned into a mindset that the 21-year-old Maitland, Florida native now shares on the inspirational speaking circuit and on his website where he raises money for a variety of charities.

“The doctors and experts said I couldn’t do anything,” Nikic told the Orlando Sentinel. “So I said, ‘Doctor! Experts! You need to stop doing this to me. You’re wrong!’”

Written by Joe Kinsey

Joe Kinsey is the Senior Director of Content of OutKick and the editor of the Morning Screencaps column that examines a variety of stories taking place in real America.

Kinsey is also the founder of OutKick’s Thursday Night Mowing League, America’s largest virtual mowing league.

Kinsey graduated from University of Toledo.


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  1. Nice! This is what it’s all about!…

    Someone overcoming real challenges rather than the manufactured “problems” that seem to permeate life for many. Much to be proud of for this young man and his family & friends! 💥💥💥👊🏼👊🏼👊🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼

  2. Awesome story Joe. Need more like this. So many more good people in the world than bad. Wish our media would focus on people like Chris.

    Good on you Joe for bringing it to light. For all of the excuse makers out there, let this be your light. Stop focusing on what can’t be done, and begin doing what can.

  3. I’ve been out on runs here locally in Clermont, FL and had the inspiration of seeing Chris train with his team. Taking nothing away from Chris and his accomplishments, HIGH praise to his family and friends for their commitment and support in helping him reach his goals! TRUE LOVE on display !!!

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