After becoming first Ironman with Down syndrome, Chris Nikic conquers Boston Marathon

Nikic, 22, completed the Ironman last year in under 17 hours

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Chris Nikic continues to run toward success. The Maitland native once again accomplished a new goal. At 22-years-old, Chris, born with Down syndrome, was among thousands of runners at this year’s Boston Marathon.

“You know...it was kind of tough,” said Chris Nikic via Zoom from his hotel room in Boston a day after the event. He completed the marathon in 6 hours, one minute and 22 seconds. “I became the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman and also the first person with Down syndrome to complete a Boston Marathon.”

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In November 2020, Chris Nikic made history as the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman race in under 17 hours. Since then, he’s been non-stop, showing the world that his intellectual disability isn’t an obstacle for him.

“It was amazing. Just watching the excitement and all the people. He really got a chance to meet a lot of people, get a lot of hugs,” said Nik Nikic, the history maker’s father. “For him it’s not about finishing in a certain amount of time—six hours was a good target—it’s about having fun and about being out there so people can see that individuals with Down syndrome belong here as well.”

For the Nikic family, being part of big athlete events goes beyond the finish line. It’s about inclusion.

“He’s opening doors for other people like him. For instance, there were no other individuals, as far as we know, out of 20,000 participants, with an intellectual disability here, and so we think that needs to change,” Nik Nikic said.

Nik Nikic tells News 6, the goal is to inspire others like his son and change the narrative around who can participate in athletic events.

“At least in this country, there’s 6.5 million people with intellectual disabilities, 200 million around the world, and I think it’s time for them to have their own category and be included in these big events,” he said.

So, what’s next for Chris? The New York City Marathon on November 7th.


About the Author:

Carolina Cardona highlights all Central Florida has to offer in her stories on News 6 at Nine. She joined News 6 in June 2018 from the Telemundo station in Philadelphia.