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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Speed machine Dafne Schippers wins 200M at Beijing

The 15th World Championships in Athletics  held at  Beijing, China, has concluded. 43 nations won medals, 144 of which were awarded.   In the Medal’s tally – it is Kenya toping with 16 medals (7-6-3); Jamaica 2nd 12 (7-2-3); United States 18 (6-6-6); Great Britain 7 (4-1-2) and Ethiopia 8 (3-3-2) – the top 5
Utrecht, is located in the eastern corner of the Randstad conurbation and is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands.  Utrecht's ancient city centre features many buildings and structures several dating as far back as the High Middle Ages. It has been the religious centre of the Netherlands since the 8th century. Utrecht was the most important city in the Netherlands until the Dutch Golden Age, when it was succeeded by Amsterdam as the country's cultural centre and most populous city.Utrecht is host to Utrecht University, the largest university in the Netherlands, as well as several other institutes for higher education. It is an  important transport hub for both rail and road transport and is famous for its doorbells.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, from Jamaican track made waves in 100M race.  Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Fraser-Pryce ascended to prominence in the 2008 Olympic Games when at 21 years old, the relatively unknown athlete became the first Caribbean woman to win 100 m gold at the Olympics. In 2012, she successfully defended her 100m title, becoming the third woman to win two consecutive 100m events at the Olympics.No woman in history can boast of as many global 100m titles.

At Beijing, the 28-year-old Jamaican,  who has the  uncanny ability to reach top speed quicker than her rivals out of the blocks established a lead on her rivals including  her countrywoman Veronica Campbell-Brown – one of a trio of Jamaicans in the final – prominent with US champion Tori Bowie also in the mix.The  long-striding European champion Dafne Schippers presented the Jamaican’s most demanding challenge over the second half of the race. Schippers had an outstanding race clocking 10.81 to trim 0.02 off the Dutch record she had set just two hours earlier in the semi-finals. Schippers became the first athlete from the Netherlands to win a women’s 100m medal at a global championship since the great Fanny Blankers-Koen, the IAAF female athlete of the 20thcentury, struck gold at the 1948 London Olympic Games.  

The first World Record in the 200 m for women (athletics) was recognised by the Fédération Sportive Féminine Internationale (FSFI) in 1922. However, the IAAF did not maintain a record category for 200 m (bend) as opposed to 200 m (straight) until after 1951.

At Beijing, Dafne Schippers finished like a bullet train to defeat the Jamaican Elaine Thompson in the last desperate strides of the women’s 200m final at the world championships.  She had run 21.63sec, the third fastest time in history, behind only Florence Griffith Joyner and Marion Jones. She certainly jolted all.

We have become used to Jamaicans dominating sprinting, Kenyans, Ethiopians, Nigerians dominating long distance running. Schippers’ home town of Utrecht is better known for its doorbells.  There was difference reaction from many quarters as some questioned about the acne on Schippers back and face, which can be a sign of steroid abuse. But the Dutch journalists all said the same thing: her mum and sister had both had acne, and that it was hereditary.

As a 19-year-old, while still mostly training for the heptathlon, Dafne  ran 11.19sec for the 100m and 22.69 for the 200m. And as a teenager she beat the 2012 Olympic champion Allyson Felix and missed out on the 200m final at the 2011 world championships in Daegu by 0.04sec. Schippers has given up the heptathlon to focus on sprinting – which means she doesn’t have waste training and recovery time from jumping, hurling and hurdling any more. Her starts have vastly improved. And she has been working with the renowned sprint coach Rana Reider, who used to consult for UK Athletics and trains a lengthy list of world-class athletes.

It was indeed a great run –  Schippers, who is 23 now, took the world title in 21.63 seconds, setting a new European record in the process. Silver went to Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson. Schippers’ time is the third fastest ever run by a woman and she is the first Dutch woman ever to win a world athletics title. Earlier Schippers took silver in the 100 metres. Two years ago, she took bronze in the heptathlon but quit that event earlier this year to focus on sprinting. The simultaneous dip for the line had the crowd gasping. But it was the times of the medallists that sent jaws crashing to the floor: Schippers 21.63, Thompson 21.66, Veronica Campbell-Brown 21.97. For only the second time in history, after the tainted 1988 Seoul Olympics final, three women had run under 22 seconds in the same 200m race. And within breathing distance was Britain’s 19-year-old Dina Asher-Smith, who ran the performance of her  career to finish fifth in 22.07. Not only did it snatch Kathy Cook’s British record, which has been gathering dust for 31 years, but it made her the fastest teenager over 200m in history.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

3rd Sept. 2015.

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