International Athletics

Schippers record stuns her coach

2015-08-29 10:22
Dafne Schippers (File)

Beijing - When Dutchwoman Dafne Schippers smashed a 36-year-old European record to capture the women's world 200 metres gold, there was no one more shocked than her coach Bart Bennema.

Bennema has overseen Schippers' training for the last seven years, taking charge when she was a raw 16-year-old, but even he was staggered after watching his protg run 21.63 seconds -- the fourth fastest time ever -- just days after her silver in the 100m.

It was a remarkable run by Schippers, 23, who eclipsed the European record of 21.71 set by Marita Koch in 1979 and matched by fellow East German Heike Drechsler in 1986.

Only Americans Marion Jones and world record-holder Florence Griffith-Joyner have run the 200m faster than Schippers, who also won heptathlon bronze at the Moscow worlds two years ago.

The careers of Koch, Dreschler, Jones and "Flo-jo" were plagued by doping allegations, however, and Schippers was quick to distance herself, insisting she was clean.

"I do all the dope controls," she said pointedly. "I don't want to say more than that."

Bennema, who managed Schippers' switch from heptathlon, said the strapping athlete had always shown a keen competitive edge.

"I'm surprised with the winning time, I'm not surprised that she won. I'm surprised by the way she did it," he said of Schippers, who won the European sprint double in Zurich last year. "There's some room to improve.

"The first year I got her she could run fast. When she was 16 years old, she ran 7.60 seconds in the 60 metres, so she was fast already. It's a gradual process and with weight training it gets easier."

Seven years ago, Schippers "was stubborn, like she is now, but she can perform at a really high standard," added Bennema. "She always wanted to win, but that makes her a really strong athlete.

"I knew I had a talent but you never know how big the talent is until you train it and give it time to develop."

Bennema played down the fact that Schippers, who is white, had performed so well in an event long dominated by black American and Caribbean sprinters.

"She's white, it's not a factor for us. She has the right genes, she does the right sport," he said. "When they line up it's just eight women who want to run fast."

Given her heptathlon past, Bennema said he was keen to continue the demanding training the gruelling multi-discipline event entails.

"We'll keep doing all-round training, maybe not javelin or high jump, but other jumps, hurdles, even shot put," he said.

"Instead of throwing balls all the time, she can do the shot put. When she starts training, we'll see if she likes that. She doesn't know that yet!"

Schippers was the first to admit that heptathlon had aided her in the switch to straight sprinting.

"I think it's helped me," she said. "When my body is tired, my heart is very strong."

Asked if she would continue to compete in the heptathlon, Schippers replied: "I don't think so." Bad news for her sprint rivals.


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