Chris Nikic

Chris Nikic – An Ironman Inside and Out!

Chris Nikic just did the impossible! At least what people thought was impossible. But apparently, he did not get the message!

Chris, a 21-year-old young man from Maitland, Florida, completed an Ironman triathlon. An Ironman consists of a 112 mile run a 2.4-mile swim and a 26.2-mile run. While this is an amazing accomplishment for any human being, it is especially unique because Chris Nikic has Down Syndrome. And with his participation in the Panama City Ironman, he entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the first person in history with Down Syndrome to complete an Ironman!

Chris Nikic’s Road to the Ironman

His road to this amazing and inspiring accomplishment has been anything but easy.  Chris had open-heart surgery when he was just five months old.  He needed a walker when he was three and did not even walk on his own until he was four years old.

Throughout his childhood, he and his parents were told that he could not do many things that other kids could do. For years they listened and accepted these limits.

Until in 2017, he sets his sights on completing competing in triathlons. His training started with one pushup! But also an amazing commitment he created with his dad to get 1% better each day.  Eventually, for the year leading up to the Ironman, Chris trained four to eight hours each day along with his training partner, Dan Grieb.

Chris’s amazing perseverance and attitude is an example for not only children with Down Syndrome and other special abilities but to all kids around the world. Chris is now focused on trying to inspire as many people as he can with his story which he is sharing through public speaking, presentations, and a book he is writing with his father.

He also has his sights set on competing in the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games and continuing to raise money for Special Olympics, Down syndrome and RODS (Racing for Orphans with Down Syndrome).

Check out Chris’s incredibly inspiring story below and start thinking about how you can become 1% better at something every day!


1% better
I want to change the perceptions and raise expectations for others like me so we can reach our God given potential. Believe and Achieve by Getting “1% Better”.

Now check out other stories about perseverance, positive attitude and teamwork

Think about some things you would love to do but then it feels impossible. Talk it over with your parents and teachers. Follow Chris is 1% plan to Put together a plan to make it happen, getting one percent better every day!

Additional Resources:

Topics for Discussion:

  • What character traits does Chris exhibit?
  • How does Chris’s attitude affect his life?
  • Do you think of Chris as having a disability or a gift?
  • What special gifts and talents do you have?
  • What’s one lesson you can learn and apply in your own life from Chris?
  • What is one thing you want to try to do now that you have seen what Chris can do?

Take Action:

  • Learn more about the 1% Better Challenge and how you can apply this in your life
  • Think about a big goal that you have.  It could be for school, for family, or any other important area of your life.  Write it down, using this goal worksheet or create your own worksheet.  Keep track of your progress, stick with it and reward yourself when you have completed it.  Keep doing this and you will be surprised at how much you can achieve.
  • Learn how to participate in a triathlon in your area at Kids Triathlon
  • See how you can help out the Special Olympics in your area

Teacher Features:

  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for elementary school students.
  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for middle school students.
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