Beijing Diaries 12: In praise of Dafne Schippers, by Larry Eder

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Schippers_DaphneQ-Beijing15.JPGDafne Schippers, photo by PhotoRun.net

Dafne Schippers has had a spectacular World Championships. Her 100 meter NR went from 10.92 to 10.83 to 10.81 here! And then, that amazing 200 meters.

On Friday night, there were some spectacular events, from the surprises of the 100m and 110m hurdles races to the 200 meters. My favorite had to be the women's 200 meters. ( I will write about the long jump later, so patience, kind readers).

The 200 meters is the furlong. Half a lap of the track. It is more than two times the 100 meters. It is a super way to show your speed and your strength. Not all great 100 meter runners make good 200 meter runners. And not all great 200 meter runners make great 100 meter runners. The greatest example of that was Michael Johnson, who used to get injuries when he raced over 100 meters.

Dafne Schippers spent most of her formative years as a heptathlete who could sprint. Honing those skills, and having some success, she focused last summer, winning the European titles at the 100 meters and 200 meters. I enjoyed those events immensely. She ran well and continued to improve.

In the 200 meters last night, there was a formidable field.

The race began with Elaine Thompson and Veronica Campbell-Brown, one of the most experienced 200 meter runners on the planet, out fast. Candyce McGrone, Dina Asher-Smit and Jeneba Tarmoh were in the mix as well. Dafne Schippers got out well, and just moved so well around the turn. Then, as she came off the turn, it was like Dafne Schippers was lit up, she pumped her arms and sped down the track, passing one athlete after another. She was moving to the the win.

But, had she moved fast enough?

Elaine Thompson had a slight edge on Veronica Campbell-Brown at 180 meters, and for all intensive purposes, Dafne Schippers was still not in the race.

Dafne Schippers is tall, fast and fit.

Schippers wanted to win the 200 meters. She told the press later that the 200 meter gold was her goal. She was about twenty meters from not achieving her goal.

That last 20 meter is something to watch.

Dafne Schipper went by Veronica Campbell-Brown, then, edged ahead of Elaine Thompson, leaning perfectly at the line and none too soon.

The sprinter from the Netherlands needed every bit of strength and speed to complete her goal, because Elaine Thompson was not giving up!

Dafne Schippers won in 21.63, with Elaine Thompson in 21.66 and Veronica Campbell-Brown in 21.97.

Candyce McGrone of the US was fourth in 22.01, a PB. Dina Asher-Smith set her second 200m PB of the meet, this time, getting the National record, with Jeneba Tarmoh in sixth place.

The heptathlete turned sprinter gave her country, the Netherlands, their first sprint title since 1948, when the late Fanny Blankers-Koen won both sprint titles. A Dnf in Gotzis this year due to knee pain was the driving force in her decision to focus on the sprints.

Her 21.63, leading three women under 22 seconds, was only the second time that has happened: the last time was in 1988. Schippers NR also broke the European record from 1979, set by Marita Koch, and equalled in 1986 by Heike Dreschler.

Dina Asher-Smith's NR broke the long standing British NR of 22.10, set by Kathy Cook in the 1984 LA Olympics.

The race however, belongs to Dafne Schippers, who won the 200 meters the hard way: she earned it, meter by meter!

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