Dutch athlete clocks 49.26 to beat a women’s mark by Jarmila Kratochvílová that had stood since 1982
World records are there to be broken, they say. Unless they are owned by Jarmila Kratochvílová. The mighty Czech athlete has held the world outdoor 800m mark with 1:53.28 since 1983 and the world indoor 400m best of 49.59 had survived since 1982.
Survived until this weekend, that is, when Femke Bol, the Dutch 400m hurdles specialist, ran 49.26 at the Dutch Indoor Championships in Apeldoorn on Sunday.
“It was because of all the fans here that I ran this record,” said a beaming Bol moments after her race at the Omnisport arena. “Never have I ever seen that many people here. When I crossed the line I knew that the record was mine, because of the noise that the crowd made.”
Following in the world record-breaking footsteps of Ryan Crouser, who set an outright world shot put record on Saturday, plus Lamecha Girma, who broke Daniel Komen’s long-standing 3000m mark a few days ago, Bol blasted through 200m in 23.63 before holding her form in the final lap as Lieke Klaver chased her home in 50.34.
The 22-year-old broke the 50-second barrier for the first time with 49.96 in Metz, France, earlier this month and then impressed with another victory in Lievin, but at her national championships she smashed her PB to send Kratochvílová’s performance into the history books.
Kratochvílová’s long-standing record incidentally was set 41 years ago at the European Indoor Championships in Milan when she stormed to gold almost two seconds ahead of runner-up Dagmar Rübsam of East Germany.
Bol is assembling a number of world records. Last year she clocked a world 300m hurdles best of 36.86 in Ostrava and earlier this year she ran a world indoor 500m record of 65.63 at the New Balance Indoor Games in Boston.
Bronze medallist in the 400m hurdles at the Olympics in 2021, she took silver behind Sydney McLaughlin at the World Championships in Eugene last year before winning three gold medals in the 400m, 400m hurdles and 4x400m at the European Championships in Munich.
All eyes now will be on Bol to see what she can do at the European Indoor Championships in Istanbul in a fortnight and also later this summer in the inevitable outdoor rematch with McLaughlin.
Will Kratochvilova’s ancient and seemingly invincible 800m record of 1:53.28 come under threat from Athing Mu and Keely Hodgkinson too in coming seasons?
» Subscribe to AW magazine here