The fire for the sport of triathlon was lit for Aafke during a visit to the triathlon in neighboring Holten. She herself was active at a gym where she gave swimming lessons and aquaspinning, among other things. Registration for a running race followed, as well as six participations in the Nijmegen Four-Day Walk.

"After that sixth time, the challenge was gone," confesses the Overijsselian. The curiosity about triathlon kept itching, and after first trying an eighth and a quarter, Aafke became curious about the longer work. "The first half became a drama. I was incredibly affected by the sports nutrition. But my participation in 2019 resulted in AG win in Aix-en-Provence, something I didn't expect at all!"

In fact, it turned out that the longer the distance gets, the more stable Aafke's performance becomes. Qualification for the World Cup in Almere in 2021 resulted in a finishing time of 10h19: "that was even faster than twice my fastest time at the half at that time."

The enthusiasm is bursting from Aafke, who this year raised the level of ambition yet again. "I had set a goal of taking the NK podium in Nieuwkoop. But unfortunately, thanks to the federation, that was cancelled," the triathlete refers to the decision to deny the event NK status due to blue-green algae. Two days after her win in the D40 category, however, she hit the asphalt with her time trial bike.

So Aafke is now busy rehabilitating. With a collarbone fracture and three broken ribs, it is now hoped for a successful recovery. In the upcoming races, being able to start and then finish will become the main goal. But for 2024, the sights are set on World Cup participation: "The Ironman World Cup will be in Nice then. Not too far away, so a great opportunity to start at the World Cup. Qualification should then happen in Hamburg or Klagenfurt."

The most important races for Aafke:

03-06 NK half distance Nieuwkoop

27-08 European Championship half triathlon Menen (BEL)

09-09 European Championship long distance Almere

21-10 Challenge Vieux-Boucau

Aafke Willemsen