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.