Schippers sticks to winning sprint formula

Schippers sticks to winning sprint formula
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Dutch star Dafne Schippers will attempt to add 60m gold in Prague this weekend to her 100m and 200m European outdoor titles from Zurich last summer.

There’s an old saying in sport that once you’ve found a winning formula you should stick with it.

That certainly seems to be the policy for Dafne Schippers, the Netherlands’ newest flying Dutchwoman who blew away the opposition over 100m and 200m at the European Athletics Championships last summer, and now looks on course to do the same over 60m at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Prague this weekend.

No-one who saw Schippers’ second sensational sprint victory in Zürich could doubt her decision to skip the multi-events and concentrate on speed. And what speed. Schippers hurtled off the 200m bend and strode across the line in 22.03 seconds, the fastest by a European woman since 1995 and her seventh Dutch record of the summer.

The former world junior heptathlon champion’s sprint double last August famously matched the exploits of her legendary compatriot Fanny Blankers-Koen 64 years earlier. Those two titles, plus her 200m victory at the IAAF Continental Cup, helped Schippers to claim European Athletics’ female athlete of the year award..

Having recently described 2015 as “the year of the choice”, Schippers has again left the continent’s multi-eventers to fight amongst themselves as she opts to chase another European sprint title in Prague where she will start as clear favourite for the 60m gold.

Indeed, far from resting on her sprinting laurels, the 22-year-old from Utrecht has come roaring back into action in 2015, twice lowering her personal best in the last month to top the European list by three hundredths of a second with 7.09.

Schippers’ quickest pre-2015 time was 7.14 from the 2013 European Athletics Indoor Championships in Gothenburg when she finished just outside the medals in fourth place.

After training hard in South Africa last autumn, she started this indoor season with victory on home soil in Apeldoorn over Dutch teammate Jamile Samuel in 7.21. She briefly leapt to the top of the world list in Karlsruhe, where she clocked 7.12 in her heat before being disqualified from the final, won in the same time by her British rival, Dina Asher-Smith.

Undeterred, she returned to Germany two weeks later to compete in Berlin’s ISTAF meeting where she shaved another three hundredths from her best to beat a world-class field including Germany’s Verena Sailer and Ivet Lalova of Bulgaria – both of whom will vie with Asher-Smith to be her main challenger in the 02 Arena.

See Schippers' 7.09 performance in Berlin on 14 February 2015.

Schippers’ near-perfect indoor season continued two weekends ago at the Dutch championships where she completed another double, improving her indoor long jump best to 6.48m having again left Samuel in her shade in the 60m.

It remains to be seen what events the multi-talented Dutchwoman will concentrate on this summer. After taking heptathlon bronze at the Moscow World Championships she could well compete for multi medals again in Beijing this August, and has said she will almost certainly compete in the Hypo multi-events meeting in Götzis at the end of May.

But, all that’s to come. For the time being, at least, Schippers is sticking to the single-minded policy that brought her such success last summer – sprinting for gold.