The 21-year-old student from Drenthe threw the 1-kilo disc at a distance of at least 70.22 meters. She tops the world rankings for the season, ahead of Cuban world champion Yaimi Perez, and is only the 26th woman to break the 70m barrier.
Van Kleinken’s progress is unprecedented. Last year, 60 meters was still out of reach for the young woman from Assen: her personal record is 59.59. Her transfer from Papendale National Athletic Center to ASU last January made unprecedented progress this month. On May 16, it submitted 62.58. On May 20, 65.94 (more than 2 meters from the Olympic limit) and Saturday 70.22 meters, the best throw in a series also reached 67 meters.
Van Kleinken’s achievement is quite remarkable due to the questionable history of discus throwing. All-time world rankings dominate the former Eastern Bloc athletes who pitched at the height of doping: more than 30 years ago. The 1984 Dutch Olympic champion, Rhea Stallman, belongs to that group. She got the furthest Dutch throw in the world ranking (71.22), but admitted to taking doping.
In this century’s furthest pitches, Van Klinken suddenly came third, behind twice Croatian Olympic champion Sandra Berkovic (71.41) and Cuban Denia Caballero (70.65). On her World Cup debut, in 2019, Van Kleinken finished only 18th.
Van Klinken, a practicing shot putter and hammer throw, credits her progress to the work of her trainer, former discus thrower Brian Blutreich. Her teaching all kinds of basic techniques started in January. “I was busy in the Netherlands with more difficult things,” the athlete told RTV Drenthe last week. Van Kleinken graduated in innovation science in Utrecht with a master’s degree in global management in Arizona.
Drentse should get used to coaching status in America. I can see all around me that all of my teammates see him as a kind of god. But it is completely different for me. I still say what I’m thinking, but I’ve learned that sometimes he just doesn’t really care what I’m saying. Because it determines how that will happen. “ Then I wait for the exercise to show him whether it is working or not, ” Van Kleinken told Drenthe radio.
It is difficult to predict whether the 70-meter Van Kleinken is an anomaly, and may be the result of ideal conditions in Arizona, or a harbinger of further throws. What is certain is that it is much more difficult to throw a disc farther away in Olympic Stadium than to throw a disc farther in an open court such as Tuscon, where the appropriate winds can carry the disc away. This happens less quickly on court. Rutger Smith, the best discus player in the Netherlands, often achieved his best performance in open court.
The intention is for Van Kleinken to come to the Netherlands in June, among other things for NK Athletics. She is also trying to position herself on the set of filming in Tokyo. On the Arizona State University website, she expressed her wish to win an Olympic medal in discus and shot put. Daphne Shippers describes the favorite athlete she met, who wants to meet the Obama family, and when asked about any former Arizona student who would like to see sport: “Rhea Stallman.”