It took 16 hours, 46 minutes and 9 seconds, but with every stroke, every pedal and every step, Chris Nikic made history.
The 21-year-old from Maitland, Florida became the first person with Down’s Syndrome to complete a full Ironman. He twice recovered after falling off his bike to complete the event, which includes a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile marathon run.
Chris finished in darkness, with cuts on his knees, just 14 minutes short of the official cut off time in Panama City Beach, to make a massive statement about determination and perseverance. In Ironman's 42-year history, no athlete with Down’s had ever competed in, never mind finished an event. It earned him official recognition from Guinness World Records.
Since he was nine, Chris has been a member of Special Olympics which now encompasses over 5.7 million athletes with intellectual disabilities in 220 countries, using sport to create an inclusive world for people of all abilities.
His journey to the finish line in Panama City Beach had started three years earlier when, after noticing his son was becoming increasingly sedentary, father Nik encouraged him to become 1% fitter each day. Training began with a single push-up.
“You can do things you never thought possible,” said Chris, who now wants to show fellow Down’s community members they can do a triathlon too.