'21st Century Fanny' wants an impossible performance at the European Championships in Munich

’21st Century Fanny’ wants an impossible performance at the European Championships in Munich

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  • Luke Blegboom

    NOS Editor in Munich

  • Luke Blegboom

    NOS Editor in Munich

Will it be included in the books after the European Athletics Championships in Munich as Fanny Blankers-Koen in the 21st century? During an introductory international press conference on Sunday, Fimky Paul and her deputy heard with shyness how their international superstar’s speed had apparently risen, as a British journalist requested.

“A bit strange comparison,” she calls herself. No, she has never had a relationship with Flying Housewife remotely. If only because right now she can’t stand the Amsterdam girl who won Olympic gold in London in 1948 in the 100 and 200 metres, the 80m hurdles and the 4x100m sprint.

Smiling, “But that’s an honor.”

get used to

The 22-year-old expert in all imaginable numbers at 400m still needs to get a little used to her situation. Europe hangs on every word of it after announcing that she will run the unique double in the 400m flat and 400m hurdles during the European Championships. As if that wasn’t enough, she’ll also start the 4x400m relay this final weekend.

It’s a project, Paul is the first to admit it frankly. “But sometimes in life you just have to take risks to achieve the impossible.”

The idea came from her coach, Laurent Moyle. The Swiss think it rude to say that the tough group was chosen because Paul, who is in the prime of her life, takes tartan very easily.

“My job as a coach is to challenge her and keep her strength. Motivation. Because with all due respect to her opponents: in 400 hurdles, the difference between her and the rest is huge.”

Now or never

Moi prefers to call it a typical case of “now or never”. If she ever wants to double in her life, it can only be this year. He told Paul during the European Championships that are scheduled to be held once a few weeks after the World Cup. “In the world championships, that’s a really impossible combination.”

Then leave the choice to Paul. “I never told Fimki to do this. I assured her that if she wanted to try it because such an idea was somewhere in her head, she should take her chance now.”

Moyle explained that the 2024 edition, when the European Athletics Circus visits Rome, will be canceled due to the Olympic Games to be held in Paris that year. “And in four years, you don’t know how the competition is going and whether you’re still happy with yourself.”

Fimk Pohl recently improved the Dutch record in the 400m at the Diamond League in Chorzov.

The competition schedule, with the 400m flat on Tuesday and Wednesday and the 400m hurdles on Thursday and Friday, also provides space for testing. Bonus: The European Championship format states that the top 12 in each number qualify directly for the semi-finals and do not have to participate during the series.

Meuwly has mused and weighed the past few weeks. Watch Paul digest the world championships in Eugene, America, where she won two silvers in the 400m hurdles and 4x400m mixed relay.

He also studied how his student performed last week during the Diamond League match in Chorzow, Poland. In the 400m without hurdles, she set the national record at 49.75, making her the first Dutch woman to break the magical 50-second mark.

“I think she can handle this,” was the only conclusion Molly could make. “Femke is still very young and in the shape of her life.”

a challenge

He added that it is definitely a challenge. “This will be tough physically, not mentally, because she knows this is going to be very difficult. Because it’s not a mix of 100 and 200 meters that you run, right?”

According to Meuwly, the experience is more than just a fresh competition stimulus. According to him, it also requires a completely different mindset. “It’s not focused on time or the championship record in this tournament. It’s just about achieving a goal.”

Winning both 400m races would increase Paul’s standing in world athletics. However, she never had the idea that she had star status in her sport.

no pressure

In the past, as Paul admitted, all the questions had caused her to be very stressed out. “Now I don’t care anymore. I can even enjoy it in peace.”

“I’ve grown up really fast lately,” she says of it. Perhaps a crucial detail: She has learned to let go of her desire for perfection. “A few years ago, everything had to go on a tight schedule. It’s no longer necessary.”

“If I used to start a warm-up a minute later than planned, I might get quite upset. Now I think: It doesn’t matter if I get out on the track after five or ten minutes. Is the training not going as I planned or will I suddenly have to take on a different job?” It just doesn’t matter to me anymore. It’s so much fun doing excellent sports this way.”

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