Schippers ready to sparkle in Rio
A world-class heptathlete from her junior years, in 2014 Dafne Schippers made a sensational transition to sprinting, going on to win the 200m world title in Beijing in 2015. The versatile Dutch athlete is now gearing up for Rio, where she will put her electric pace to the test in the 100m and 200m.
Born in Utrecht on 15 June 1992, Dafne Schippers started out in athletics at the age of nine, and in 2008 signed up for a heptathlon programme run by the Dutch Athletics Federation.
Always an explosive sprinter, it was her all-round skills in the multi-disciplinary event that first got her noticed on the international junior circuit.
In 2010, she racked up 5,967 points to win heptathlon gold at the World Junior Championships in Moncton (CAN), where she also laid down a marker for the future by helping the Netherlands land bronze in the 4x100m relay. The European juniors title came her way the following year in Tallinn (EST), Schippers amassing an impressive 6,153 points to head the field.
World heptathlon bronze
Schippers stepped up to senior level in 2012, and though she regularly featured in the Dutch 4x100m relay quartet and continued to trim her sprint times, heptathlon remained her preferred event.
Twelfth at London 2012, she created a little piece of history in Moscow the following year, becoming the first female athlete from her country to win a world championship medal, taking bronze behind Canada’s Brianne Theisen-Eaton and Ukraine’s Hanna Melnychenko with a national-record 6447 points.
She then took a decisive step towards becoming a pure sprinter at the 2014 European Championships in Zurich, where she posted world-class times in the 100m and 200m. Further proof of her prowess came when she ran 7.05 to win the 60m title at the 2015 European Indoor Championships in Prague, and then clocked 10.94 – her first sub-11-second 100m time – at an IAAF meeting in Hengelo (NED) that May.
Buoyed by those performances, she finally made her career switch the following month, tweeting: “SPRINT it is. A very tough decisions. But it feels good for now. I'm looking forward to the WC Athletics and Olympics.”
“In the heptathlon, I always have problems with my knee and it frustrates me a little bit, so I’m very happy with this decision,” she explained. “The 100m and 200m is more in my nature.”
A breathtaking world 200m winProof that Schippers had made the right decision came almost immediately, with two sensational performances at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing that August. The first came in the 100m, with the Dutchwoman posting a new national record of 10.81 in taking silver behind Jamaican sprint queen Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price.
Even better was to come 24 hours later, however, as Schippers sent shockwaves through the athletics world with a devastating finish in the 200m final, leaving Jamaican duo Elaine Thompson and Veronica Campbell-Brown trailing in her wake to win gold in a new world championship and European best of 21.63. The time, the fourth-fastest in history, made her the third-fastest woman of all time in the event.
To cap it all off, she then beat reigning Olympic champion Allyson Felix in the IAAF Diamond League 200m final in Brussels.
Schippers began her Olympic year by winning a World Indoor Championship 60m silver medal behind the USA’s Barbara Pierre in Portland. Her preparations for Rio then received a major boost on a wet May evening in Hengelo, when she ran 22.02, the fastest 200m time of the year.
“It was my third race of the weekend,” she said afterwards. “This means that I’m in good shape and that’s important, because I hope that I can do four races at the Europeans in Amsterdam (on 6-10 July) and eight in Rio.”
Having already shown she has speed to burn, the remarkable Schippers is gearing up for a shot at Olympic sprinting glory in Rio.