Chris Nikic, 21, became the first athlete with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman Triathlon on Saturday. Nikic, from Maitland, Florida, also earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for finishing the Ironman Triathlon and the Special Olympics called the feat a "historic achievement."
"It's an honor to welcome Chris into the Guinness World Records fraternity as the first athlete with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman," Guinness editor in chief Craig Glenday said in a statement. "I look forward to seeing what more is in store from this remarkable young man."
"To Chris, this race was more than just a finish line and celebration of victory," he said. "Ironman has served as his platform to become one step closer to his goal of living a life of inclusion, normalcy, and leadership."
In total, Nikic swam 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles and ran 26.2 miles over 16 hours, 46 minutes and nine seconds during Ironman Florida in Panama City Beach. He finished the triathlon 14 minutes ahead of the official cut-off time and did so along with his guide, Dan Grieb.
"Goal set and achieved," Nikic wrote in an Instagram post on Sunday. "Time to set a new and BIGGER Goal for 2021."
In addition, Nikic believed that part of his goal was about inclusion and awareness for the Special Olympics.
"I did the work but I had angels helping me," Nikic said. "God surrounded me with angels. Best part of all. New family and friends. All about awareness and inclusion. Awareness for Down syndrome and Special Olympics. Inclusion for all of us with all of you."
Nikic also received congratulations from the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, which focuses to improve health outcomes for those that are diagnosed with the disorder.
"We are beyond inspired, and your accomplishment is a defining moment in Ironman history that can never be taken away from you," Ironman Triathlon's official Twitter account said.