A young man from Florida became the first person with Down’s Syndrome to cross the finish in the Ironman Triathalon. The event – which includes swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles and running a 26.2-mile marathon — earned Chris Nikic official recognition in the Guinness World Records.
The Ironman Triathalon has been around for over 40 years and not one person with Down’s Syndrome — which is a genetic disorder that causes developmental delays physically and mentally — has ever attempted to take on such a feat. But Nikic did.
As his father helped him put on his shoes in a video circulating on social media, he gave his son a pep talk that almost brought him to tears. “You are almost an Ironman buddy. You’re two-thirds of an Ironman,” his dad said in the video.
BBC spoke with his father about what this win meant to Chris. “To Chris, this race was more than just a finish line and celebration of victory,” his father said, “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.”
The official Ironman account also cheered Nikic on as he finished the race, updating their followers on his progress. “You have shattered barriers while proving without a doubt that anything is possible,” they tweeted.
His dad mentioned to the BBC that he motivated Chris to become 1% more fit every day and it all began with a single pushup. With over 33,000 new followers, he posted a photo with the caption, “Goal set and achieved. Time to set a new and bigger goal for 2021.”