Stuart Weir wrote this piece on the Femke Bol, one of the biggest stories in global athletics in 2022, and an even bigger story in 2023.
Femke Bol Part 2 Two World Championships in one year
Femke had a crazy 2022. As well as running a full Diamond League program, she was in the World Indoors (400 and relay), World outdoors (400h and two relays), and European Championships (400 flat, 400h and relay). It evolved rather than representing any grand plan: “I think my coach already had the idea of the double or triple at the European championship, but he didn’t tell me, and that was not in my mind. I decided only in January to do it indoors, and with the mixed relay, I never know if I’m going to do it. Partly it depends on the timetable”.
In the World Indoors, she came second in the 400m in 50.57 behind Shaunae Miller-Uibo (50.31), commenting at the time: “I knew I was coming to race against the best runners in the world. I think I did a very good job and I am very happy about the silver. I am very curious about what I can show in Oregon. I will get back to the hurdles. But I wanted to do the 400m indoors so much that I am happy about it. But now it is the time for the hurdles”. In the Dutch Championships, she had run 50.30 for 300 flat.
At the World Indoors in Belgrade, she also anchored the Dutch 4 by 400 women’s relay team to silver behind Jamaica but ahead of USA and Poland. She said: “I just told myself to be patient, be patient, wait for the right moment to attack, and now, we are so happy to win this silver. It is a special moment to win a team medal because I think we feel the power together as a team. The team spirit is very unique, and it also helps us in our individual careers”.
She made some interesting points about the transition into the outdoor season: “Even when you’ve done it, you never know if you can do it again, but I kept the flow going into the outdoor season. Because hurdles are completely different, it’s always quite a switch from indoors to outdoors. But I had good training camps and good teammates, and I used Diamond Leagues to see what I needed to do and what I wanted to do better. I could see things like ‘I can do 15 strides all the way’ or ‘I need to start faster’ as I worked towards the world champs”.
Her World Championship program in Oregon started with the mixed relay, where the Dutch took silver behind the Dominican Republic but ahead of the USA (Allyson Felix and all). She particularly enjoyed sharing the podium with Liemarvin Bonevacia, “with whom I train every day”.
In the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, in the 400h, she had finished third behind two Americans, Sydney McLaughlin, and Dalilah Muhammad. In Oregon, she split the Americans to take silver in an equal season’s best of 52.27.
In the women’s relay semi-final, she ran a historic leg but to no avail. The Dutch dropped the baton, and Femke chased down teams ahead of her to secure a place in the final, only to disqualify the team. This is how Femke recalls it: “I just love relays. I think it’s such a nice way to end a championship. At that stage, your muscles are tired and are telling you, ‘maybe you’ve used me a bit too much!’ But I think it’s so nice that you go on the track with the team. I am always on the last leg, and I know I will get the adrenaline when I see the others running, coming toward me. I love to chase to see if I can get close – that’s what it’s all about. I remember watching and thinking Lieke had run well. Then I looked again, and the stick was on the ground. I wondered what was happening but saw that Cathelijn [Peeters] was coming. I kept on running and did a good leg. I knew I’d just had to see if I could get in the top three, and I made it, but then we were disqualified. I think we made up for it with gold at Europeans”.
I think they did! But I would love to know what Femke’s time was in that leg that did not count.
Leave a Reply