Chris Nikic earned his place in the Guinness World Records Book on Nov. 7 by becoming the first athlete with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon. The event requires participants to complete a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.2-mile run.
The 21-year-old Special Olympian from Maitland, Florida, made history when he crossed the finish line of the Florida Ironman competition in Panama City Beach along with his guide, Dan Grieb. The pair finished the challenging course in 16 hours, 46 minutes and 9 seconds. He beat the event cutoff time by 14 minutes, according to CBS News.
“Congratulations Chris on becoming the first person with Down syndrome to finish an IRONMAN,” posted the official Ironman Facebook page. “You have shattered barriers while proving without a doubt that Anything is Possible!”
The Ironman team also thanked the amazing athlete for his inspirational effort that broke barriers for people of all abilities.
“The opportunities you have created for others around the world through this journey you embarked upon, is immeasurable,” the post said. “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 Special Olympics organization gave a shoutout to Nikic on Twitter for his Ironman feat and included some stunning candid shots of his accomplishments on the course.
Chris made history as the 1st person with Down syndrome to finish the full triathlon. His feat landed him in the Guinness World Records & inspired so many around the world! #Choosetoinclude #IMFL pic.twitter.com/OiiqnDSbEu
— Special Olympics (@SpecialOlympics) November 8, 2020
Nikic set his goal to complete an Ironman event back on Dec. 31, 2019 when he sat down with his parents to write down his dreams and goals — and a plan for achieving those goals. In an Instagram post, he described his process to get to the Ironman finish line.
“In December, I did a 14-mile sprint triathlon in 2 hours,” he wrote. “Then all I did was get 1% better every day for 10 months. Nov. 7, I did a 140-mile Ironman in 17 hours. Do you think it was worth it? If I can do this, imagine what you can do?”
Nikic also said he plans to “write down a bigger dream and a bigger goal but the plan will be the same. Get 1% better for 10 months. Anything is possible.”
What an inspiring story of perseverance and determination. Congratulations, Chris!