Maitlander Chris Nikic becomes first person with Down Syndrome to complete the grueling Ironman triathlon


Chris Nikic
  • Chris Nikic
Maitland resident and Special Olympics Florida athlete Chris Nikic made sports history over the weekend, becoming the first person with Down Syndrome ever to complete the grueling Ironman triathlon.

For the uninitiated, the limits-testing Ironman course consists of – and our muscles gave out just typing this – a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike race and a 26.2-mile run. All three legs must be completed in 17 hours or less.

The 21-year-old Nikic crossed the Panama City Beach finish line at a hair over 16:46. Back in May, Nikic pregamed for Ironman by finishing a half-distance triathlon (70.3 miles), the first athlete with Down Syndrome to complete that as well.

ESPN shouted out Nikic and his accomplishment on their Facebook page on Sunday, no big deal:

Chris Nikic is the first person with Down syndrome to complete an IRONMAN. Amazing 👏 🏊‍♂️ 2.4 mile swim 🚴‍♂️ 112 mile bike ride 🏃‍♂️ 26.2 mile run (h/t IRONMAN, ESPN UK)

Posted by ESPN on Sunday, November 8, 2020

“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, President & CEO of Special Olympics Florida, in a press statement. “Chris has become a hero to many athletes, fans and individuals across Florida and around the country.”

Next up for Nikic is training, training and more training to work toward his goal of qualifying to compete in the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games, which will be held right here in Orlando.

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