No barriers for record-breaker Bol

To break a national record once in a career is an amazing achievement. To set 12 of them in one year alone is something else. But that’s exactly what Dutch star Femke Bol has done so far in 2021, during a year in which her specialist event – the 400m hurdles – has been launched to another level.

The 52.37 Bol ran to win at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Stockholm earlier this month made her the fourth-fastest ever in the history of the women’s 400m hurdles, but such is the strength in the event, she is not the quickest this year. The top spot is of course filled by Sydney McLaughlin thanks to her remarkable world record of 51.90 at the US Olympic Trials, while Bol is one of four women to have gone sub-52.50 this season.

“We have such an amazing field,” Bol said. “I mean, the world record for women and men was broken in one week for both – it’s amazing to see the level of the 400m hurdles keep going up and that with my time I am now second in the world this year, not even first. Of course, you want to be first, but when the level in your event is so high, I think that is the best.”

It certainly makes things exciting, and it is that level of competition which the 21-year-old partly has to thank for her progress. After running 53.33 in Oslo, Bol said she was “curious” to find out what she might be capable of when really being pushed and she didn’t have to wait long to find out. Her 52.37 in Stockholm came just three days later as she narrowly held off the USA’s 2015 world silver medallist Shamier Little, whose PB of 52.39 in that race moved her to fifth on the world all-time list.

“When you have someone that you compete against, it always helps to push each other and I think that’s what makes it so beautiful, when competitors are really going against each other,” Bol had said before her race in Stockholm. “Like at the (US) trials, you see amazing times come from that. It is nice if you can be really competitive in the last metres, when you are full of lactic.”

The next day, after taking almost a second off her PB, a delighted Bol added: “I knew I was running against a really strong field and my coach and I said to each other: ‘Okay, I’m going to show that I can also do it under this pressure and when we push each other’. Shamier was coming so close, and I don’t think I have ever pushed as much in the last few metres. I am extremely happy and also that I did a good dip to win it.

“When I run these times, I am in the mix against the real good girls and I didn’t expect it, to be honest. I hoped I could do 52.9 maybe this year and I felt I was getting close to that, and now I have run one second faster (than her previous PB). It’s not yet making sense in my head!”

posted Wednesday July 14th