“Running down the finishing chute of Challenge Almere-Amsterdam (then Holland triathlon) with my dad back in 1999 started the dream of becoming a triathlete. Who would have thought that 22 years later, I would cross that same finish line as a World Champion?” Ten days ago, it happened: in a remarkable time of 8:32:05 – a new national record – Sarissa de Vries won the World Triathlon Long Distance Championship at Challenge Almere-Amsterdam.
“As the people who are following me for a longer time might know: my triathlon career hasn’t been without its challenges,” she wrote on Instagram. “I started as a junior 16 years ago and a few years later I was racing at the highest level of short course racing and attempted to qualify for the 2012 Olympics. During those years, I struggled with several mental health issues, which had its effect on my physical health as well. I retired from elite racing in 2014 at age 25 thinking my career as a professional triathlete was over.”
‘Priority was to enjoy the journey’
However, slowly De Vries got involved in triathlon again: “I turned to doing triathlon for fun, started working as a coach and dipped my toe in a few professional Long Distance races as a ‘semi-pro’. I wasn’t ready to give the long distance a serious go until two years ago. I had the full support of Maarten (her partner, ed.) and my family, and we agreed that the priority was to enjoy the journey and that whatever I would do, it should never be detrimental to my mental or physical health. Never in a million years I would have thought that eating lots of food and doing ‘just’ the training that is needed without pushing myself over the limit would result in the form I am in now.”
‘A team effort’
De Vries ends her message thanking all the people who’ve been there for her through the good and the bad: “Training partners & teammates, coaches & support staff, sponsors, the athletes that I had the privilege to coach, friends & family, especially my parents who always have been there for the good and the bad, and many others who I got the opportunity to meet along my journey as a triathlete and shared a training ride, drink or chat with. But most of all I want to thank my boyfriend and coach Maarten Strijbosch who has been the one who believed that I could grow as a person and athlete, even when I didn’t believe it myself. It has truly been a team effort, and I can’t even describe how much it means to me to always have you in my corner.”