HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. — The Ironman triathlon is an event many athletes have circled on their calendar each year and this year's no different, especially for Chris Nikic.
Chris’ coach, Dan Grieb said, “One day, this young man and his father showed up at one of our trip club meetings and said that he was looking for a guide and that’s where a magical friendship began.”
Nikic is not like everyone else, he was born with down syndrome. “Everything we’ve ever been told from the day he was born to a couple years ago was that he would never amount to anything,” Chris’ dad Nic told Bay News 9’s Katya Guillaume. But you have to meet Chris to understand how that statement couldn’t be further from the truth.
“I am a high school graduate, a par speaker, and as you can see I’m adorable, single, and available,” Chris said.
Chris is bound to make you laugh, but when he’s not, which is rare, he’ll tell you what led him here. “So I did a 1,000 meter swim across the lake and then I signed the wall.”
"What did you sign?” his father Nic asked.
Chris answered, “I signed 'World Champ.”
Nic continued, “Then what happened after that? What did I say to you?”
Chris continued to say, “'Do you want to do Ironman?' I’m like yeah.”
For the past year, Chris has been training to become the first person with down syndrome to complete an Ironman.
“You reach a point where you’re always so concerned about their future that you do everything you can to set them up for the future,” Nic said while trying to fight back tears. “I’m proud of him. He’s amazing and he’s God’s gift to all of us to kind of reflect on how we can be better.”
The 2020 Ironman Triathlon is set for November 7th. Chris just has to complete it in 17 hours to achieve his goal.