We are inspired by members of the HYLETE community who work hard to achieve their goals. We asked Special Olympian Chris Nikic, to share details about his journey training to become the first athlete with Down Syndrome to complete an Ironman Triathlon competition. Here's what he had to say.
What do you train for?
I am training for Ironman.
How long have you been a competitive athlete?
I have competed in Special Olympics since I was 10, I started with golf, did other sports like track and basketball.
What sports do you compete in?
I love basketball more than anything else. since I was little, my sister played competitive basketball and I wanted to be like her. She played in college and professionally in Europe. I also compete in track, swimming, and golf.
What does 1% better mean to you?
It means every day I do something so I am better today than I was yesterday and I track everything on my big board in my bedroom. Every day I write down what I did and how I get better. It means by getting 1% better every day slowly, it doesn't hurt and I achieve my goal to be an Ironman. If I achieve my goal, it means I also have a chance to achieve my dreams. My dream is to be independent. I want to be like my dad to buy my own car, buy my own horse, and marry a smoking hot blonde from Minnesota like my mom.
What advice would you give other athletes training for an Ironman?
Go slow. Enjoy the experience. Have fun on the journey. When you go slow, you don't experience as much pain or injury. It takes longer to succeed, but the journey is much more fun. I have fun being part of the tri club and making friends. I now have so many friends I didn't have before.
What does community mean to you? How has the community supported you through your training?
Being part of the community means I have so many new friends. They are all so nice to me and let me be part of the team. So many people have helped me in so many ways. People like Wynn and Victoria helped start this program in the Special Olympics and then volunteers like Simone, Dan, Hector, Carlos, Jen, and so many others have volunteered to help me. Now some of my other friends are starting to do it also. So the team is growing which means more friends at parties.
Who has inspired you?
My mom and dad inspire me every day because they tell me God's gift to me is to inspire others like me. They inspire me by telling me I could get my dreams if I am willing to work hard and get 1% better each day. I was also inspired by my friend Anna Marie who went to the World Games two years ago. I thought that was cool so I want to go to the next World Games with her.
What are some challenges you faced while training and how did you overcome them?
I get sick a lot. In the last 4 months, I got sick 3 times so I lost 3-5 days of training to recover. Nothing I can do but recover and work harder to catch up. Also, the bike is a challenge. I fell three times. The last time I got 10 stitches. That is the hardest because it makes me scared so it takes me a long time to get back on the bike and overcome my fear. SO I lose training time (because I can't swim with open wounds for 2 weeks) and it takes time to build back up from the fear. Finally, this Coronavirus has been a problem. Gyms and pools are closed so we found ways to overcome them. A friend lets me swim in her lake. My coach has a studio I train in. We created different things at home to train. It has been hard but we always find a way to overcome obstacles. My Ironman 70.3 in Panama City was canceled for May 9th, so we created our own race in Clermont. My life is simple: NO EXCUSES.1% Better. Work Hard. Eat More. Have fun.
Keep up with Chris and his follow his journey: