An athlete with Down syndrome was the first to complete the Ironman Triathlon on Saturday.
Chris Nikic of Maitland, Fla., finished the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run in 16 hours and 46 minutes. He received a Guinness World Record for finishing the race, which the Special Olympics Florida called a “historic achievement.”
“During the race, Nikic overcame an attack by ants during a nutrition stop and twice fell off of his bike,” the Special Olympics said in a release. “With blood dripping from his knee, he climbed back on and pushed ahead.”
The 21-year-old, who competed with his guide Dan Grieb, finished 14 minutes before the race's official cut-off time. He said his goal was about “inclusion” and spreading awareness about Down syndrome and the Special Olympics.
“I did the work but I had angels helping me,” Nikic said on Instagram. “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.”
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IRONMAN. Goal set and achieved. Time to set a new and BIGGER Goal for 2021. Whatever it is the strategy is the same. 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 www.ChrisNikic.com because 100% of the donations go to my charities. I achieved my goal and now I want to help others like me. Thank you to @ironmantri and @im_foundation for making it possible. Thank you @specialolympics @specialolympicsfl for starting the triathlon program. Thank you @rodsracing for giving a home to babies like me. I will be thanking so many more people over the coming days. But I must start with the 3 Angels who trained with me and did the race with me. Dan, Jenn and Carlos. #inclusion
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Nikic already has his sights on “a new and BIGGER Goal for 2021” and will focus on qualifying to compete in the triathlon for the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games.
The Global Down Syndrome Foundation celebrated Nikic’s win on Twitter, saying he “has broken barriers and shattered doctors’ expectations.”
Chris Nikic, 21, makes history! He is the FIRST person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman! Chris has broken barriers and shattered doctors' expectations. Way to go, Chris! https://t.co/A5B5tsjdFV— Global Down Syndrome (@GDSFoundation) November 9, 2020
The Ironman Triathlon’s Twitter account stated, "We are beyond inspired, and your accomplishment is a defining moment in IRONMAN history that can never be taken away from you.”
We are beyond inspired, and your accomplishment is a defining moment in IRONMAN history that can never be taken away from you. You swam 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles and ran 26.2 miles and now you get to brag for the rest of your life.— IRONMAN Triathlon (@IRONMANtri) November 8, 2020