It hasn’t been an easy path for Tessa Kortekaas from Voorhout, a small village in the west of the Netherlands, to the world of elite triathlon.
Tessa was gifted in various sports at an early stage of her life, securing the National Youth Championships in cycling at the age of 13 and defending her title a year later.
She was soon taking part in marathons and looked set for a promising career. She was struck with Pfeiffer’s disease though - a virus that in the blood which made Tessa incredibly fatigued - at the age of 19 and for a while gave up on her dreams.
Kortekaas would return to her local triathlon club in 2016, and although her progress wasn’t immediate, she soon began to land podiums in regional events. She soon turned to half-distance triathlons, starting in the Dutch Championship and finishing fourth in her age group, but that wasn’t challenging enough for her.
With the long-term goal to qualify for the IRONMAN World Championship in Hawaii, she took in the full distance in Lanzarote. Although dehydration meant she did not finish, her next attempt at Maastricht in the Netherlands proved much more successful as she won her age group and qualified for Kona.
Her 2018 season followed a similar path as she failed to complete in Lanzarote before qualifying in Maastricht with a new personal best. The best was yet to come in Hawaii as she became world champion in the 30-34 age group.
Tessa decided to turn professional in 2019 and made a great start by finishing sixth in IRONMAN South Africa. After a tricky mid-season with injuries and stomach problems, she then headed to Malaysia.
This time, everything came together and in what Kortekaas calls a “dream”, she claimed a first professional victory over the full distance.