Chris Nikic Makes History, Becomes First Person with Down Syndrome To Finish Ironman Triathlon

Accomplishing the impossible is something that Chris Nikic has been doing for years, thanks to the support team he has in his family.

According to a video by WUFT News, dad Nik Nikic had heard it all: People telling him his son wouldn’t amount to anything, that he would have to be cared for his entire life. But the Nikics felt otherwise, and now the world does, too.

It started a few years ago after Chris had undergone several surgeries and led a fairly inactive life.

He was left out of many things and was missing out on lots of events that young people his age engage in, so his dad decided it was time for a change.

A big change.

Tucker Drops FBI Bombshell: Jan. 6 Organizers 'Were Almost Certainly Working for the FBI'

But it started small.

On that first day of training, when Chris couldn’t even complete a single lap in the pool, the goal of one day competing in and completing a triathlon seemed an impossible dream.

But they stuck to reasonable goals: “Get 1 percent better every day” became their motto.

They trained, and they trained and they trained. Coach Dan Grieb joined them as they navigated wholly new territory — there were no guidelines, no tips for helping an athlete with Down syndrome train for a triathlon simply because it had never been done before.

But on Nov. 7, Chris swam 2.4 miles, cycled 112 miles and ran just over 26 miles in 16 hours, 46 minutes and 9 seconds to become the world’s first IRONMAN with his condition.

“A year ago I wrote ‘Chris World Champ,'” he tweeted on Sunday. “Anything is Possible.”

Alaska Man Steps in After Baby Moose Causes Traffic Jam Trying to Reach Its Mother

“It’s official! @SpecialOlympics Florida athlete @ChrisNikic is an IRONMAN,” the Special Olympics Twitter account shared.

“Chris made history as the 1st person with Down syndrome to finish the full triathlon. His feat landed him in the Guinness World Records & inspired so many around the world!”

“@ChrisNikic, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!” IRONMAN Triathlon tweeted. “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!”

“We are beyond inspired, and your accomplishment is a defining moment in IRONMAN history that can never be taken away from you. You swam 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles and ran 26.2 miles and now you get to brag for the rest of your life.”

While the accomplishment is incredible in its own right, as Chris trained and joined like-minded people also training for triathlons, he’s found community — something that his father could only hope for once.

Chris hopes to be an inspiration to others like him, but it’s pretty clear he’s been an inspiration to many from all walks of life.

His grit, determination, support group and renowned hugs have taken him far, and a triathlon is just the beginning.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →


We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, , , ,
Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking