A First for Ironman Competition

Chris Nikic has Down Syndrome, says his goal for 2021 will be even bigger
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 10, 2020 4:30 AM CST
He Is the First With Down Syndrome to Do Ironman
Special Olympics athlete Chris Nikic, from Seminole County, Fla., holds the "Flame of Hope" Torch during the Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America behind Disney's BoardWalk Inn on Wednesday, May 27, 2015 in Orlando, Fla.   (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

For the first time, a competitor with Down syndrome has completed an Ironman triathlon. Chris Nikic achieved the impressive physical feat Saturday in Florida, CNN reports. The event consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-marathon run; Nikic completed the course in 16 hours, 46 minutes, and 9 seconds. "IRONMAN. Goal set and achieved. Time to set a new and BIGGER Goal for 2021," he posted on Instagram. Nikic, a notable Special Olympian and founder of the 1% Better Challenge, has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for the accomplishment.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the 21-year-old stopped more than once to hug family and friends on the sidelines during the final yards of the race. "The doctors and experts said I couldn’t do anything," he said in an interview after he crossed the finish line. "So I said, ‘Doctor! Experts! You need to stop doing this to me. You’re wrong!’" Says an Ironman VP, "I think this will open doors for a lot of other folks who maybe just thought it was impossible." (More uplifting news stories.)

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