Triathlete Chris Nikic will be honored with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at The 2021 ESPYS, airing live on July 10 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. The award is given to a deserving member of the sporting world who has overcome great obstacles through perseverance and determination. In November of 2020, Nikic became the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon.
At 21-years of age, Nikic finished a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile marathon run at the Ironman Florida competition in Panama City Beach in 16 hours, 46 minutes and 9 seconds, just 14 minutes under the 17-hour cutoff time. 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, Nikic might be the first but he certainly won’t be the last. Nikic will be presented with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance during The 2021 ESPYS, hosted by Anthony Mackie. Nikic is also a nominee in the “Best Athlete with a Disability, Men’s Sports” category.
“Wow, what an honor to receive the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance and to be included with such an amazing group of people,” said Nikic. “As a Special Olympics ambassador, I represent millions of athletes around the world who can now believe that inclusion is real for all of them. Thank you for me, but more importantly for the Down syndrome community and my fellow Special Olympics athletes.”
In 2007, Women’s College basketball coach Kay Yow became the very first recipient of the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance. Past recipients include Eric LeGrand, Anthony Robles, George Karl, Dick and Rick Hoyt, Stuart Scott, Devon and Leah Still, Craig Sager, Jarrius Robertson, Jim Kelly, Rob Mendez, and Taquarius Wair.
“Chris’s unique, inspirational story personifies the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance,” said Rob King, Senior Vice President and Editor-At-Large ESPN Content. “We are honored to present him with this award and look forward to seeing what he accomplishes next.”
The ESPYS help to raise awareness and funds for the V Foundation for Cancer Research, the charity founded by ESPN and the late basketball coach Jim Valvano at the first ESPYS back in 1993. ESPN has helped raise close to $134 million for the V Foundation over the past 28 years.