The Ironman triathlon is one of the most taxing sporting events in human history, and this past weekend history was made. Special Olympian Chris Nikic, at 21 years old, entered the Guinness Book of World Records by becoming the first person with Down Syndrome to complete the event.
Nikic completed the race in 16 hrs, 46 minutes and 9 seconds. That might sound like a long time on paper, but consider just how ludicrous the Ironman is. The race starts with a 2.4 mile ocean swim, which sounds bad enough in its own right. Then competitors hit the road for a 112 mile bike ride. At this point your brain has collapsed from how sore you’d be. Finally, because the Ironman isn’t torture enough, competitors complete a full 26.2 mile marathon run.
It’s considered the pinnacle of sports challenges, and Nikic conquered it.
Nikic had been training for the race for the last year, and promised on his Instagram page that he’s working toward a bigger challenge in 2021. But, outside of personal sports challenges, he has a far greater goal than completing a race.
“All about awareness and inclusion,’’ he wrote. “Awareness for Down Syndrome and Special Olympics. Inclusion for all of us with all of you.”
Nikic became the star of the race. Ironman isn’t typically an event that garners much attention, but when people became aware of the feat they started watching in droves. Race organizers live streamed the final two miles of Nikic’s marathon run, shining a spotlight on the incredible athlete.
.@ChrisNikic, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!
Congratulations Chris on becoming the first person with Down syndrome to finish an IRONMAN. You have shattered barriers while proving without a doubt that Anything is Possible!
— IRONMAN Triathlon (@IRONMANtri) November 8, 2020
The 21-year-old isn’t resting on his laurels. Nikic is using the newfound fame to direct people to his personal website, where they can purchase merchandise, with 100 percent of the profits going towards various charities that support the Special Olympics, and people with Down Syndrome.
There’s been so much negativity in sports this year that I want to say thank you to Chris Nikic, for giving us something truly wonderful to celebrate. Also congratulations for an achievement that will echo in history.