Sports history was made this month when Special Olympics athlete Chris Nikic became the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon.
If you’re not familiar with the Ironman triathlon, it’s one of the most grueling athletic competitions in the world. Athletes are expected to complete a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile marathon run. The 21-year-old Nikic completed the Florida-based race in 16 hours 46 minutes and 9 seconds, which is 14 minutes under the 17-hour cutoff time.
His big achievement is all the more impressive considering Nikic fell off his bike at one point and was attacked by ants at a nutrition stop. Nonetheless, Nikic persevered to complete his goal, entering the Guinness Book of World Records by becoming the first person with Down syndrome to complete the event.
While the sporting success was important to Nikic, he had a far greater goal in mind than just completing the race. “All about awareness and inclusion,’’ he wrote on his Instagram. “Awareness for Down syndrome and Special Olympics. Inclusion for all of us with all of you.”