Femke Bol has won the world title in the 400 meter hurdles with a time of 51.70 seconds at the World Athletic Championships in Berlin. The 23-year-old took gold, the Dutch team’s first at the tournament.
The Dutch athletes have won two other medals. Anouk Vetter took the bronze in the heptathlon, and Sifan Hassan snatched the bronze in the 1,500 meter.
National team coach Laurent Meuwly announced in February that Femke Bol would run faster than she ever has in the 400 meter hurdles. The world title in Budapest was the proof of that.
“Put the hurdles in the lane. If you can break a world record like that in the 400 meter indoor, then she will go even faster in the 400 meter hurdles,” were his prophetic words after Bol had broken the record set 41 years ago by Czech Republic’s Jarmila Kratochvilova at the NK Indoor by putting down an incredible time of 49.26.
Meuwly had then already started an important, but technically difficult switch for his pupil at the 400 meter hurdles. The Swiss trainer had imagined that the native from Amersfoort would be aided by less steps between the hurdles; 14 instead of 15.
It meant that she would have to take bigger steps and would have to switch her swinging leg in seven out of the ten hurdles. “It is a totally different way of running, very efficient and it comes much closer to her natural way of running”, Meuwly said at the time.
The coach believed the changes were needed to go to battle with Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone. The American won gold last year at the World Championships in Eugene with a world record of 50.68. Bol arrived over a second and a half later at the finish line in second place.
She was shocked that the gap was so big, but would not consider herself defeated. “Sydney’s achievements motivate and inspire me”, she said. “It was for the first time a year ago that somebody ran under 52 seconds and now we are under 51 already. I have become world level in a short space of time. A lot is possible.”
The Amersfoort native proved herself a quick learner, as she improved considerably before the Budapest event. She clocked a time of 51.45 in London at the Diamond League in July which was a European Record and the third quickest time ever at that point. It was clear at that time that she would not have to worry about Mclaughlin in Hungary, as the American had set her sights on the 400 meter flat.
Bol said several times that the world title was her goal, but even after her dominant display in the semi finals she refused to talk about gold and mainly spoke about how important it was that she “executed” the plan that she had planned before the race in her head.
“Everybody expects that I am going to win, but you never know what could happen”, she said referring to her unfortunate fall in the final of the 4×400 meter mixed. She tripped up just a few meters before the finishing line and lost an almost certain gold medal for the Netherlands team.
https://nltimes.nl/2023/08/25/femke-bol-wins-gold-world-cup-budapest Femke Bol wins gold at the World Cup in Budapest