Florida athlete becomes first person with Down syndrome to finish IRONMAN triathlon

Chris Nikic, 21, of Maitland, Fl., made history Saturday by becoming the first person with Down syndrome to finish an IRONMAN triathlon. The full-distance IRONMAN triathlon competition consisted of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile run totaling 140.6 miles, all of which needed to be completed in 17 hours.

Nikic began competing in triathlons when he was 16. He already completed a half-distance triathlon, which is 70.3 miles this past May and became the first individual with Down syndrome to do so. 

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“Special Olympics Florida is incredibly proud of Chris Nikic and the work he’s put in over the last few years to achieve this monumental goal,“ said Sherry Wheelock the President & CEO of Special Olympics Florida. “Chris has become a hero to many athletes, fans and individuals across Florida and around the country. He is an inspiration to us all, and we couldn’t be prouder of his remarkable accomplishments.” 

Courtesy: Michael Reaves Getty Images for IRONMAN

Nikic has endured two heart surgeries, seven schools and several ear canal reconstructions, but, he was able to achieve one of his lifelong goals. Some of his other goals include buying a home and a car and marrying a pretty blonde quote, "just like his mom."

He is a Special Olympics hopeful who looks to qualify for the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games taking place in Orlando.


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