Chris Nikic of Florida grew up in Florida, had open heart surgery at five months old, and was not able to walk well until he was four; he has Down’s Syndrome.
Many People falsely believe this means Chris cannot do much without assistance or lives a less full life than others. There was a point three years ago that he was having difficulty with that himself. His father Nik noticed he was becoming increasingly sedentary and encouraged him to become just 1% more fit each day.
It started with a single push-up, then on Friday it reached a mile-stone of epic proportion. Now at 21, Chris is a triathlete and has become the first person with Down’s syndrome to finish an Ironman event. He was able to swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles, and run a 26.2-mile marathon. Chris crossed the line in 16 hours 46 minutes nine seconds – less than 14 minutes under the official cut-off time at the Visit Panama City Beach Ironman in Florida – to earn official recognition from Guinness World Records.
“You have shattered barriers while proving without a doubt that anything is possible,” the official Ironman account tweeted. In Ironman’s 42-year history, no athlete with Down’s syndrome – a genetic condition that can cause varying degrees of learning disability and slower physical development – has even attempted an event, let alone finished one.
According to his Father, Ironman has served a great purpose for Chris. “To Chris, this race was more than just a finish line and celebration of victory,” said his father. “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.”
It seems like he is succeeding on inspiring others as he has gained 33,000 new followers on Instagram.
Guinness World Records called Nikic’s achievement “awe inspiring” and registered him as officially the first person with Down’s syndrome to complete the grueling challenge. All of this accomplishment and breaking barriers is your Good News Story of the Day, read it in full and see more pictures here.
He now has his eyes set on a being part of the 2022 Special Olympics, which will take place in Orlando, Florida. “No limits. No boundaries,” tweeted tennis legend Billie Jean King. “Keep dreaming big and going for it, Chris!”
Story and Image from BBC News.