Chris Nikic, You Are an Ironman. And Your Journey Is Remarkable.

Nikic, 21, became the first person with Down syndrome to conquer the grueling endurance race, offering lessons in perseverance and hope.

By Kurt Streeter for The New York Times

The Florida sky had grown dark, and Chris Nikic felt ready to quit. He had been pushing through the grueling race for more than 13 hours, even though he could not navigate the course or keep the time without help.

It suddenly became too much. In the hot, humid air, he struggled to breathe. His feet burned as they pounded the pavement, his legs felt like concrete, and it seemed as if the muscles in his back had been put through a shredder.

Nikic, a 21-year-old who lives with his parents in an Orlando suburb, had started the day with determination. If he could overcome the challenge of this race — a 2.4-mile open-water swim followed by a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run — and do it under 17 hours, he would be the first competitor with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon.

Such a feat would not just put him in the record books. It would also prove to himself and those around him that he could, in fact, do big things. And if he could do big things, then maybe one day he would be able to fulfill his ultimate dream: to live independently and have a wife and a family of his own.

Read more here.

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