Blog #234~Chris Nikic, YOU are an Ironman!
Chris Nikic, a 21-year-old triathlete from Florida, has become the first person with Down syndrome to cross the finish line at an Ironman event. The Ironman is widely considered to be one of the most difficult single day sporting events in the world. It is a daunting race which includes swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles and running a 26.2-mile marathon. The 140.6 mile race must be completed in 17 hours. But Chris Nikic made all the time cutoffs, with time to spare–completing his competition in 16:46:09.
Chris Nikic YOU are an Ironman!
More media stories: https://chrisnikic.com/
So, how did Chris Nikic achieve such an amazing feat? Nikic has been training and competing in triathlons since he was 16 years old as well as the Special Olympics. It is all about hard work, dreaming big, setting goals and crushing them. His training sessions were around 6 hours daily. I am a 37 year fitness professional. I have worked with cyclists, marathon runners, triathletes, Ironman finishers and the 12 time Guinness world record holder for the plank and spinning (George Hood). Each of these athletes are disciplined and passionate. But there is something more–and that is the spirit that comes from the heart. I saw this in Chris Nikic who has the true heart of an Ironman. He adopted a mantra that is very simple but effective: “Give 1 % more each day”.
“If you start walking 100 steps and get 1% Better for 1 year, you will be walking 3,700 steps. If you start with 1,000 steps, in 1 year you will be walking a Marathon.” https://chrisnikic.com/
“I learned that I am willing to work hard and get one percent better every day, then ‘Anything is Possible,’” he replied when asked what it means to him to attempt an Ironman. “But I also learned that I can get my dream.” -Chris Nikic
History was made at this Ironman event. Barriers have been broken, making room for athletes with Down syndrome and other intellectual and developmental disabilities to set goals, dream big and be included. Nikic is a trailblazer, and with each transition from swim, bike to run he brought tears of joy to my eyes and thousands around the world. This all came from a boy, who like my son Nick, didn’t walk until he was 4 or eat solid foods until he was 5. Chris also had heart surgery at five months old and later four major ear operations at age 17.
To Chris, this race was more than just a finish line and celebration of victory,” said his father. “Ironman has served as his platform to become one step closer to his goal of living a life of inclusion, normalcy, and leadership. It’s about being an example to other kids and families that face similar barriers, proving no dream or goal is too high. If Chris can do an Ironman, he can do anything.” -Nik Nikic
Congratulations to Chris Nikic, YOU are an Ironman! Your mantra of doing 1% better going for your dreams, and crushing the Ironman is truly inspirational. That’s what is in my noggin this week.
Teresa Unnerstall is the mother of Nick, who is 26 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD). She is the author of A New Course: A Mother’s Journey Navigating Down Syndrome and Autism (https://amzn.to/2W3Un6X) Follow on social media (Facebook-Instagram @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism, Twitter (@tjunnerstall).