Transition puts Schippers on double gold path

Wed Jul 20, 2016 10:44pm EDT
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By Mark Gleeson

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Flying Dutchwoman Dafne Schippers is a strong contender to emulate compatriot Fanny Blankers-Koen's golden sprint double from 1948 at next month's Rio de Janeiro Olympics after a dramatic switch from heptathlon to concentrate on the sprints.

Blankers-Koen won both the 100-200 meters at the London Games after World War Two as well as the 80m hurdles and then anchored the Dutch in the 4x100 relay.

The tall Schippers, she stands 1.79m (5'10"), always had the potential to be a top sprinter after a record breaking junior career but instead concentrated on the heptathlon.

While good enough to clinch bronze in the heptathlon at the 2013 world championships in Moscow, she abandoned the grueling multi-discipline event to concentrate on the sprints after the 2014 European championships in Zurich.

Having entered just the sprints to satisfy her own curiosity, she surprised many with winning times of 11.12 in the 100 and 22.03 in the 200 -- the second fastest time of the year behind London Olympic champion Allyson Felix.

"There was no way I could have thought that was possible," said Schippers.

After that, the decision was made to concentrate on just two events and her times since have steadily got quicker.

She is highly fancied to win the 200 meters in Brazil after success at last year's world championships in Beijing and having recorded the best time of 2016 with 21.93 in Oslo at the start of June.   Continued...

Athletics - European championships - Women's 100m final - Amsterdam - 8/7/16 Netherland's Dafne Schippers reacts after winning  REUTERS/Michael Kooren