Chris Nikic runs NYC Marathon 1 year after becoming 1st person with Down syndrome to finish Ironman

NEW YORK (WABC) -- One year after becoming the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon, Chris Nikic will run the 2021 TCS New York City Marathon.

In November 2020, Nikic, then 21, finished a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile marathon run at the Ironman Florida competition in Panama City Beach in 16 hours, 46 minutes and 9 seconds -- 14 minutes under the 17-hour cutoff time.

"We never realized that he was capable of that. I'm just being honest. We accepted society's limits on him and we acted by accepting those limits," Chris' father, Nik Nikic, said.

Throughout his training and completion of the race, Chris inspired others to follow in his footsteps: spreading his message to be "1 percent better" every single day, in every aspect of life.

"Throughout his childhood, all the way up until the age of 18 when we started this journey he was excluded, he was never invited to anything. Even when he goes to the gym to play pickup basketball he's excluded. As a parent that is hard. We think about every other child like that and every other parent like us. So yeah this is hard what he's doing, but not nearly as hard as what he was doing before," Nik said.

In July, Chris was honored with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at The ESPYS.

"I'm running to make a difference and I'm running for the kids who are going to open up the sport and the right to be included and not be excluded," Chris said.

One month after completing the Boston Marathon, Nikic continues to lead the way for others by toeing the starting line in Staten Island on Sunday.

Information from ESPN was used in this report.

The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of ESPN and this ABC station.


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