A little Sunday morning positivity we all could use.
Meet Chris Nikic.
Chris has already completed a half Ironman Triathalon, now he is set to become the first person with down syndrome to complete the full Ironman Triathalon.
Chris Nikic, a 20-year-old Special Olympics athlete, was seen training at the RDV Sportsplex in Maitland, Florida, on Wednesday, as he is striving to achieve his goal of becoming the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman Triathlon later in the year.
Chris' Father, Nik Nikic, was seen cheering him on throughout the workout, as Nikic's coach and Ironman Triathlon association member, Dan Grieb, led the workout with the clear goal of having Chris competing in November at the full race in Panama City Beach.
The Ironman competition consists of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, followed by a 112-mile (180 km) bicycle ride and topped by a marathon distance run (26.2-miles; 42.20 km). Chris has been training for four to six hours a day for the past two months to fulfil his dream of completing this gargantuan task.
Nik Nikic tells that his son, who has faced a lot of adversity in life with having open heart surgery at five of age and needing a walker when he was three, has been inspired by his life goals of having a "normal life" after completing this race, which is having "a house, a car and a wife."
Chris's father explained how training for the triathlon changed his son.
"Chris started to become like the rest of us. He actually started to learn at a much rapid rate and make decisions, and then we realised, you know what? Let's use Ironman as a vehicle to show others like him that anything is possible. And most importantly, to show others that they can live in an independent life. That they can be okay when we are gone, that they can take care of themselves."
Chris aims to work as a public speaker one day, putting his skills to use to inspire others with his "1% better each day" life philosophy.
When he's not busy training 4 hours a day, 6 days a week, Chris is busy giving motivational speeches at business conferences.
(Reminder, this guy is only 20 years old)
1% better each day.
Chris gets it.
I love it.
A slight edge baby.
USA Today - Chris Nikic is 20 years old and says he loves the spotlight that accompanies success in competition. That's not because he likes the feeling of adoration. In a world where his condition could spur social isolation and strange looks from outsiders, he sees it as an opportunity to connect with others.
"I love the attention because I love people," Chris said. "It allows me to be like everybody else and (connect)."
I friggin love this guy.
"Some things man" - RB
"Obviously, the Ironman is not forgiving and Chris gets no breaks," said Nikic's coach and Unified partner, Dan Grieb. "You have to swim the full distance, run the full marathon, and bike the full time. It doesn't change for anyone. Chris is going to be faced with the wall – where it will take a level of grit and mental toughness to get through. He's displayed through all his practices he has what it takes because he's been mentally prepared through repetition."
In Chris' world, he's already dealt with plenty of adversity. He had open-heart surgery when he was 5 months old and needed a walker when he was 3.
But Chris says it's being called "stupid" and feeling "less than" by adults and peers that have hurt the most.
"Having (Down syndrome) means I have to work harder than everyone else," Nikic said. "I've learned to work harder in (life), and that's helped me be ready for Ironman."
Nikic, a Maitland, Florida resident, had been training four hours a day for six days a week to get ready for his first Half Ironman competition in Panama City Beach in May, which was postponed. He is now preparing for the full Ironman in November in Panama City Beach. But the coronavirus pandemic has postponed or canceled competitions, and Nikic's workout regimen has been more challenging with swims at the lake instead of the pool and most workouts outside the closed local gym.
Corona isn't stopping Chris.
He can't train in the pool so he's hitting the lake.
They postponed the competition but he's just getting stronger and faster.
"I don't use my condition as an excuse," Chris said. "Instead, I work harder. … My dad told me, 'Don't ever doubt your dreams, Chris.' He told me God gave me gifts. I don't ever doubt my dreams now."
Shriver said he believes Nikic's Ironman journey can be far-reaching: "There's a feeling that comes from not being afraid. When someone like Chris is able to step in front of that start line and, sort of, in effect, say to the world: 'I bet you didn't see this coming — I bet you didn't expect this when you looked at me with pity or low expectations because of the way I look,' that sends a message. Nowadays, we're desperately in need of people who will shake us out of stereotypes."
Come November he's going to crush it. And he'll have a ton of people rooting him on.
Kick some ass Chris!
If you're interested in showing him support/encouragement -