Man Becomes First With Down’s Syndrome To Complete Ironman Triathlon

Nov 18, 2020 by apost team

Chris Nikic of Maitland, Florida, is the first person with Down's syndrome to complete the highly famed Ironman Triathlon, which took place in Panama City on November 7, 2020. 

As a competitor, Chris put in 16 hours to run 26 miles, bike for 112 miles, and swim just over 2 miles.

Be sure to reach the end of this article to see the full video :-) 

An Ironman Triathlon athletic participant is at risk in many ways. Some hazards include: a long swim that carries the risk of creatures in the water, chances of cramping, and the risk of drowning; cyclists run the risk of falls, crashes with other cyclists, and stress injuries, and runners are at risk of road hazards, falls, and strains.

During every step of an Ironman competition, the risk of dehydration is also nearly constant. While competitors are working to be in the best shape possible, and race promoters are doing their best to provide for competitors' safety, there are always risks in every segment of the event.

What is Down's Syndrome?


Down Syndrome was first identified by Dr. John Langdon Down. It's the most common genetic condition in the United States, as per the CDC, and is caused by a variant on Trisomy 21. Those with Down's can experience thyroid problems and may be smaller than the rest of their family. Additionally, some with Down'sDown's have digestive and coronary issues.

The condition is commonly known as a cause that can limit the functioning of the brain and body. Down Syndrome symptoms include hypotonia, which means that twitch muscle content in people with Down's tends to be low, and their ligaments can be loose. This makes the risk of a hip or knee problem when cycling or running higher than average. 

Despite that, those with Down's can develop great muscular strength with effort. Chris Nikic is bringing all the hard work needed to become a great athlete, reports The New York Times.

Training Regimen

Chris' biggest goal as an athlete is to be 1% better every day, reports CNN. He trained with Dan Grieb and was motivated to prepare for the event because he was told he couldn't. Swimming came easy for him, but cycling, on the other hand, didn't come as naturally. Due to the pandemic, Chris could not train in the gym while he was prepping for this event, so he had to make do with whatever was possible under lockdown. His efforts have certainly paid off, no matter what limitations he faced in finding a spot to work out!

According to Chris' trainer, he started small; one pushup, one sit-up, one jogging lap around the block, one lap in the pool. Day by day, he pushed himself harder. Now, he can do 200 pushups a day – which he plans to build up to 500 before his next triathlon in Hawaii. Chris is also interested in dating and has found it easy to flirt while racing and training for the event!

Where the Sneakers Hit the Road

Chris isn't just out there for glory. His focus and attention are all on making life better for others with Down's Syndrome too. According to CNN, his father helped him as a swimmer to turn natural talent into a vital skill, and his naturally sunny disposition has been put to work for the betterment of others.

Many told Chris completing a triathlon was too far fetched of a dream for him. The Special Olympics hasn't yet offered a triathlon, so Chris put in the work and effort to compete in a standard competition with other competitors who didn't face his challenges. His response to those who said he couldn't?

"I learned that there are no limits," he told New York Times. "Do not put a lid on me."

Breaking Barriers

Those who say a thing is impossible often need to be proven wrong, and Chris Nikic is on that mission. Additionally, his efforts as an athlete both in traditional settings and in the Special Olympics break down barriers for others who face genetic and musculoskeletal challenges. Heart and determination matter more than those who will tell folks what is and isn't possible.

Parents of Down'sDown's Syndrome children often note that their children are loving, engaging, and stubborn. Chris is all of these, and his stubbornness has helped to turn him into a remarkable athlete as well as an engaging young man.

Brighten Someone's Day

For many of us, 2020 has been a time of frustration and uncertainty. When you don't know who to count on, pay attention to the folks breaking barriers. Chris Nikic can be front and center on that list. Make sure you pass on this inspirational story to your friends and family.

Do you have somebody in your life who follows their dreams against all the odds? Make sure you give them the praise they deserve by telling us their story in the comments!

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