After the failed Tokyo Olympics and the doubt whether she should continue, Dafne Schippers is happy to be back on the athletics track. The two-time world champion in the 200 meters made hard choices and is partly because of this physically in good order, but the question is whether that is enough to get back to her top times.
“Yes, the flame is still burning,” said the almost thirty-year-old Schippers on Monday at the FBK Games in Hengelo, her first international sprint competition since the Games of ten months ago. She had enjoyed the 100 meters in front of her own audience, although she had expected more than a fifth place and a time of 11.40 seconds. “I am enjoying my sport again. There is a happy person here.”
The contrast with Tokyo is enormous. Then she broke into the mixed zone after failing to reach a final in the 200m. She spoke in the Japanese capital about the pain in her back, which bothered her even in everyday life. “I could barely get out of bed at that time because of the pain. Well, then the fun is over,” she said in Hengelo on Monday.
For months, Schippers did not know whether she would continue, until she completely picked up her sport again at the end of October, but in a completely different way. She left national training center Papendal and coach Bart Bennema, who guided her to gold (200 meters) and silver (100 meters) at the World Championships in Beijing in 2015, and joined Haarlem sprint trainer Wigert Thunnissen.
Meanwhile, Schippers started lifting weights to strengthen her back and thus take the pain away. “I threw myself in at the deep end, everything is different. I still think this is my best choice ever. Now it’s just waiting for me to get a present for that.”
Dafne Schippers clocked 11.40 at the FBK Games.
‘I think five steps ahead’
With a “gift” Schippers meant a quick time as confirmation that she is on the right track. When she returned to Vught a week ago, she ran 11.37, while her personal best in the 100 meters has been 10.81 for seven years. On Monday it went even slower at the FBK Games (11.40).
“Now that the body feels good, the times should automatically improve due to competition rhythm. The training sessions are going better, there is already more in it than is now coming out. It is only difficult to combine those details of the training sessions in a competition. “
Mentally it is sometimes difficult for Schippers. From 2014 to 2018 she ran for the medals at the major title tournaments, but that level is now far away. If she gets back to her old level, it won’t be in a few weeks.
“I have to be patient, no matter how hard that is. The top athlete in me thinks five steps ahead. But that is not possible if you change so much.”
Disappointment with Dafne Schippers during the Tokyo Games.
‘I still have so much to overcome’
To keep the goal clear and to relieve the back, Schippers will not run the 200 meters for the time being, although that is originally her best distance. She is limited to 100 meters.
Schippers’ next match is in Paris in two weeks and the Dutch National Championships await in Apeldoorn at the end of this month. It seems unlikely that she will run the World Cup limit (11.15 seconds) in one of those two 100 meters competitions. The World Cup will be held in Eugene, USA, from July 15 to 24.
“With the times I am now running, I can’t think about title tournaments. That is still disappointing. I am running 11.40 here in Hengelo, while eventually I want to run under 11 seconds again. So I still have so much to overcome It has to be done step by step, only then it can be done right.”
Best time of year Skippers at 100 meters
- 2012: 11.36
- 2013: 11.09
- 2014: 11.03
- 2015: 10.81
- 2016: 10.83
- 2017: 10.95
- 2018: 10.99
- 2019: 11.04
- 2020: 11.26
- 2021: 11.15
- 2022: provisionally 11.37