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Chris Nikic accepts Espy award with inspirational and hilarious speech

First athlete with Down syndrome to complete a full-distance triathlon says he hopes to inspire others ... and notes he is single

Photo by: Michael Reaves/ Getty Images for Ironman

Last year Chris Nikic became the first person with Down syndrome to complete a full-distance race when he finished Ironman Florida.

After his amazing achievement in Florida Nikic won the Laureus Award for “Sporting Moment of the Year” and was nominated for the prestigious Sports Illustrated Inspiration award. On the weekend Nikic received ESPN’s Jimmy V award for perserverance.

“The award is given to a person in the sporting world who has overcome great obstacles through perseverance and determination,” ESPN said when announcing that Nickic had won the award. “Throughout his training and completion of the race, Nikic inspired others to follow in his footsteps: spreading his message to be “1 percent better” every single day, in every aspect of life.”

The award is named after basketball coach Jim Valvano, who was diagnosed with cancer when he was 46 and passed away a year later. Past recipients of the award include Ironman Hall of Fame members Dick and Rick Hoyt.

Related: Chris Nikic’s “1% Better” mantra serves as the triathlon highlight of 2020

His journey to the finish line in Panama City Beach began with a push up – following his father Nik’s direction to become “1% better every day,” Nikic began with a push up at the age of 18. By the time he was 21 he had moved the bar to a full-distance Ironman.

On the weekend Nikic’s acceptance speech was both incredibly inspirational and entertaining. Later this year Nikic will compete at the Ironman World Championship.