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Chris Nikic, the primary Ironman athlete with Down syndrome, units new objectives: the Boston and New York Metropolis Marathons


Chris Nikic made historical past final 12 months when he turned the primary individual with Down syndrome to finish the Ironman triathlon. Subsequent, he’ll be including to his listing of achievements when he runs the Boston Marathon on Monday and the New York Metropolis Marathon on November 3.

“I am prepared for it,” the 22-year-old instructed CBS Information in a Zoom interview as his father, Nik, hugged him. Chris admitted he is additionally trying ahead to the enjoyable and events. 

Final November, Chris earned a Guinness World Document for changing into the primary individual with Down syndrome to cross the end line at a full Ironman competitors. The milestone — a race that featured swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and operating 26.2 miles — as soon as appeared far out of attain for Chris, in accordance with a brand new self-help e book he co-wrote together with his father. 

Chris Nikic
Chris Nikic is awarded a medal after ending Ironman Florida on November 7, 2020, in Panama Metropolis Seashore, Florida.

Michael Reaves/Getty


The e book, titled “1% Higher: Reaching My Full Potential and How You Can Too,” follows Chris’ journey main as much as the Ironman competitors and past. One of many pivotal moments got here shortly after his beginning: medical doctors telling Nik and his spouse, Patty, that Chris had Down syndrome and ventricular septal defect — a gap in his coronary heart. 

One of many medical doctors instructed them, “No matter goals we had formulated for our baby ought to be deserted,” the e book stated. Months later, they carried out open-heart surgical procedure on Chris, and 7 days later, medical doctors noticed irregularities in his coronary heart, saying they wanted to implement a everlasting pacemaker as a result of there can be “zero likelihood” it may work on his personal, the e book stated. 

Nik and Patty requested members of the family and associates to wish and requested medical doctors to check Chris’ coronary heart once more, which they ultimately did. On the next day, medical doctors found Chris did not want a pacemaker. 

“We do not know what occurred,” Nik instructed CBS Information. “So, we consider God had a particular plan for him as a result of he couldn’t have accomplished what he did with a pacemaker on.”

“His life would have been utterly completely different. So, that was the turning level.”

All through nearly all of his childhood, Patty was answerable for Chris’ total care and training whereas Nik led his gross sales consulting enterprise, in accordance with the e book. There got here a degree the place the household puzzled what Chris’ future would appear like as an individual with Down syndrome. 


A triathlete’s mentor

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“This cannot be it,” Nik stated. “There needs to be extra and so, we hit a breaking level the place we simply wouldn’t settle for that that was the remainder of his life.”

When Chris was 18, he developed an affinity for exercising after understanding together with his father, and ultimately took on athletics. He progressively modified his notion of what he may accomplish.

“He began to get pleasure from it and began to get somewhat bit higher, proper?” Nik stated. “Then his imaginative and prescient of his future got here out. That is when he wrote on the wall that he was gonna be a world champ… We simply listened to him rigorously. We did not dismiss what he was telling us as cute and unimaginable, we truly took it to coronary heart and we believed it. Then we helped him obtain his objectives and his goals.”

Since then, the Florida native has grow to be a function mannequin due to his feats and world visibility as an athlete with Down syndrome. He was awarded two ESPYS final 12 months –  one for greatest male athlete with a incapacity and the Jimmy V award, which is given to a “a deserving member of the sporting world who has overcome nice obstacles via perseverance and willpower.” His social media pages are stuffed with photographs and movies of him coaching for various occasions and standing alongside celebrities {and professional} athletes. 

His new e book, which was launched Tuesday, stated members of the Particular Olympics USA Video games known as him to announce they added a triathlon dash to the 2022 occasion and he shall be collaborating. It is the second time the USA Video games will provide the game, the final time being in 2014. 

Whereas the e book was meant to present readers a approach “to pursue their goals and to be the perfect model of themselves,” Nik stated the e book was additionally written for fogeys of youngsters with Down syndrome in thoughts.

“Our hope is that this triggers the individuals who can affect the event of our youngsters to assume in another way, beginning with the mother and father, the therapists, the lecturers, the volunteers, the coaches,” Nik instructed CBS Information. “For them, to begin to view our youngsters just a bit in another way, and to present them the chances and the chance to attain their full potential.” 





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