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'God Surrounded Me with Angels': Man with Down Syndrome Makes History in Ironman Triathlon

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A Florida man with Down syndrome is showing the world that no goal is too big to pursue, even when you have a disability. 

Chris Nikic from Maitland became the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon on Nov. 7. He wrote on Instagram that "God surrounded me with Angels" and that it was "all about awareness and inclusion. Awareness for Down Syndrome and Special Olympics. Inclusion for all of us with all of you."


IRONMAN. Goal set and achieved. Time to set a new and BIGGER Goal for 2021. Whatever it is the strategy is the same. 1% Better every day. YES, I did the work but I had angels helping me. God surrounded me with Angels. Best part of all. New family and friends. All about awareness and inclusion. Awareness for Down Syndrome and Special Olympics. Inclusion for all of us with all of you. I’m sorry for not responding personally to all your messages. It’s amazing but overwhelming because I got 33K new followers and messages since yesterday. I will try and catch up. If you want to support my mission for Down Syndrome and Special Olympics go to my website because 100% of the donations go to my charities. I achieved my goal and now I want to help others like me. Thank you to @ironmantri and @im_foundation for making it possible. Thank you @specialolympics @specialolympicsfl for starting the triathlon program. Thank you @rodsracing for giving a home to babies like me. I will be thanking so many more people over the coming days. But I must start with the 3 Angels who trained with me and did the race with me. Dan, Jenn and Carlos. #inclusion

A post shared by Chris Nikic (@chrisnikic) on

In a Facebook post, Ironman congratulated the champion adding that he has "shattered barriers while proving without a doubt that Anything is Possible! The opportunities you have created for others around the world through this journey you embarked upon, is immeasurable."

The 21-year-old swam 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles and ran 26.2 miles in Panama City Beach, and finished 14 minutes before the time limit. Nikic and his guide, Dan Grieb finished the challenge together.

The newly named Ironman was also added to the Guinness World Records list.

"It's an honour to welcome Chris into the Guinness World Records fraternity as the first athlete with Down syndrome to complete an IRONMAN," said Guinness Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday. "I look forward to seeing what more is in store from this remarkable young man."

And he's not finished. Nikic wrote that it was "time to set a new and BIGGER Goal for 2021."

To keep up the encouragement while training, Chris and his father Nik created the 1% better principle – to become better, faster, and stronger by 1% every day. 

"To Chris, this race was more than just a finish line and celebration of victory," he said. "Ironman has served as his platform to become one step closer to his goal of living a life of inclusion, normalcy, and leadership." 

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About The Author

Andrea Morris

Andrea Morris is a Features Producer for The 700 Club. She came to CBN in 2019 where she worked as a web producer in the news department for three years. Her passion was always to tell human interest stories that would touch the hearts of readers while connecting them with God. She transitioned into her new role with The 700 Club in August 2022.