A man from Maitland, Florida, became the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon on Saturday.
Twenty-one-year-old Chris Nikic swam 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles, and also ran a 26.2 mile marathon, Fox 35 reported.
Chris has been training every day for the past year for the Ironman. “The hardest part for him was the mental part of the race because 17 hours of anything is pretty grueling,” his father, Nik, said.
Despite suffering from ant bites and falling off his bike during the competition, Chris never gave up.
“He finished the last 60-70 miles of the bike injured and itching,” his dad explained.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Ironman officials congratulated Chris, writing, “We are beyond inspired, and your accomplishment is a defining moment in IRONMAN history that can never be taken away from you.”
Coach Dan Grieb was with him every step of the way.
“When it was over, I told him I loved him. That he’s now an Ironman and that now ‘let’s go get your dreams,'” Grieb said, adding that the young man’s dreams are “to live independently, to have his own house, to have his own car.”
Video footage of the event showed the moment the 21-year-old crossed the finish line as people cheered:
“Put your hands together again for the history in the making,” the announcer said.
In an Instagram post Sunday, Chris wrote “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,” he continued.
Now, Chris hopes to be invited to compete at the Ironman in Hawaii, according to Fox 35.
“I’ll be doing Kona Hawaii,” he told the outlet.