Breath by breath, Lucas’ journey towards the IRONMAN 2024

Lucas is a 24 years-old, sports enthusiast and triathlete from the Netherlands. This year, he will participate in the European Championships of IRONMAN 2024. But Lucas is more than just an athlete, he is also a social entrepreneur, and throughout his journey towards the race, he is collaborating with KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation aiming to raise awareness on tuberculosis (TB).

Since a very young age, Lucas has always enjoyed sports, particularly playing football. However, just like every child in the Netherlands, he had to learn swimming first, the only sport he didn’t particularly like. He followed the mandatory lessons to develop his basic swimming skills, but in his words, “I really hated swimming.” What he did love was playing football. He quickly rose to a high level until a knee injury at nine forced him into surgery.

After his knee injury, the doctor advised Lucas to do more gentle sports, like swimming. But instead he was determined to rigorously rehabilitate and return to football. He even added running to his regimen. Despite always finishing second in races, he pushed harder, only to face knee trouble again from overtraining. This led him to cross-training with a race bike which became a new passion. But the final piece of the puzzle still had to be swimming, the part he was least keen on. Yet, one summer, Lucas entered a sprint triathlon, winning it with just breaststroke and setting a record. He realized his swimming needed improvement, so then dedicated two years to mastering freestyle. Embracing the challenge, he finally found joy in all three disciplines, leading him to sign up for the ultimate test: the full IRONMAN.

Lucas’s drive for sports and physical activity also led him to study health and life sciences. With a background in Biomedical Sciences and a master’s in Health Education and Promotion, he is currently pursuing a second master’s in Human Movement Science, focusing on encouraging people to keep an active lifestyle. His passion for sports also steered him to establish a Social Run Club in Maastricht, inviting students and others for free weekly runs to share the joy of physical activity and aiming at overall wellbeing.

When one day a new member of the Social Run Club mentioned something about TB, he became curious. Despite his education in health sciences, he realized he knew almost nothing about this disease. Intrigued, he researched it and found out that TB, although preventable and treatable, is still a global health threat, one that also carries a lot of stigma. TB stigma is a major barrier in the fight against TB. It prevents people from seeking care. TB stigma is also a factor that can be impacted by the actions of society in general, and here is where Lucas aims to play a part: raising awareness and educating others about TB!

Lucas believes that participating in the IRONMAN European Championships 2024, a major international event, serves as an excellent platform for raising awareness on TB and combating TB stigma. Given the global impact of TB, he sees the event’s large audience as a prime opportunity to highlight this public health issue. He plans to use his time in Frankfurt, where athletes will gather in hotels a week before the race, to promote TB awareness. Engaging with fellow athletes and spectators during these days could significantly amplify his message, making the most of the event’s international reach.

“I think the whole world should know about the impact of this deadly disease.”

Lucas is looking forward to collaborating with KNCV. Combining his sports background with this partnership, he foresees that step by step and breath by breath it is possible to make a positive impact on the journey to end TB.

Lucas is raising funds to support his journey to the IRONMAN 2024 and will donate a percentage of these funds to KNCV. Stay on track and follow his journey on Instagram.

DONATE HERE. By contributing to this fundraising you will be directly supporting KNCV’s efforts to end TB.

KNCV has been fighting TB since its establishment in 1903. Over the past 120 years, the organization has acquired indispensable knowledge and experience in the field of effective TB prevention and care, resulting in pre-elimination in the Netherlands and significant contributions to global evidence generation, policy development and TB program implementation worldwide.

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