Sixth, with wins for Paul, Claver, Flon and the women’s 4×100 race

Sixth, with wins for Paul, Claver, Flon and the women’s 4×100 race

Fimk Poll won the 400m for the Netherlands.Reuters photo

Fimic Paul was the best. Lekki Claver was the best. Menno Flon too, just like the women of the Dutch 4×100m relay team. And although it was a European Championship, they did not become European champions. They all contributed the maximum points in the points classification and ensured the Netherlands a sixth-place finish at the European Championships for National Teams in Chorzow, Poland. Never before has the Netherlands finished this high.

There might have been a fourth place if the 4x400m mixed relay, the 37th and final segment of the three-day championship, had turned out better. The Netherlands have a solid reputation for this, finishing second behind the Dominican Republic in last year’s World Cup.

About the author

Eric van Likerveld has been writing about Olympic sports such as speed skating, athletics and rowing since 2016.

Although it was a different configuration in Poland, expectations were high. But Terence Agard, the third runner, packed in and saw the rest of the field falter. The time, 3:20.40, was irrelevant.

No outliers

Despite the lack of that resounding final chord, the Dutch athletes proved once again with their sixth place in Chorzow that they now consistently belong at the international top. That performances in Tokyo, where the athletics team won a record six medals, was not out of the ordinary.

For the head coach of the Athletics Federation, Vincent Kortebek, this was exactly the goal of the European Championship for the national teams, which was put under the banner of the European Games this year. He wanted to go to Poland with a good team to show the breadth of Dutch athletics. To get confirmation that the policy at Papendal is working and to bring to the attention of NOCNSF that the athletes are credible award winners.

Kurtbek, who has held his position since the end of last year, has been working under his watch and calls. The championship in Poland showed the full breadth of the existing pool of athletes. Since the introduction of this European Championship in 2009, the Netherlands have not skipped the 11th place, in 2014 and 2017. But there have been years when the delegation weighed less because the European Championship for Country Teams is simply a rather impressive competition.

Women's 4x100 relay team after winning.  Environmental Protection Agency photo

Women’s 4×100 relay team after winning.Environmental Protection Agency photo

All results, both men’s and women’s, are poured into points and added together. Sixteen countries participate, and thus the winners receive sixteen points. Whoever catches the silver wins fifteen and that’s it. As a tournament, it’s part of everything: a training incentive for the senior players, an experience for the youngsters and a way to ensure the group feels more than just a relay.

An example of the latter is given by the Belgian shot putter Julien Maliga-Bumko. Compatriot Anne Zaghry had to cancel an injury in the 100m hurdles. Pumko took her place to secure the two points that could be earned. Although there was a team spirit in her action, her dribbling around the court and her quiet stride over the fences were no match for a tournament that should revolve around the big sport.

There is no major tournament

But the European Championship for National Teams is not an outright major tournament. Its determination leaves him in two minds. And by no means were there all the great athletes from Europe. Not Carsten Warholm with the Norwegians, not Jakob Ingebrigtsen either, not Dinah Asher-Smith for Great Britain.

The Netherlands were also not at full strength, missing discus thrower Jorinde van Klinken, who had recently won the Diamond League in Oslo. Sivan Hassan, who could undoubtedly add sixteen points to the Netherlands’ total, whether it was in the 1,500m or the 5,000m, also did not participate.

But there were also world-famous athletes in orange in Poland. Vemke Paul left the 400-meter steeplechase to Kathleen Peters, who finished third, opting for the 400-meter flat. Lake Claver advanced to 200 metres.

Aero David lands a long jump box.  Environmental Protection Agency photo

Aero David lands a long jump box.Environmental Protection Agency photo

It turns out that this selection is great. Claver ran to win on Sunday afternoon and posted a personal best of 22.46. That was just 0.01 seconds above the championship record set by Daphne Schippers, who ran 22.45 in 2015. Paul, the 400-meter world record holder, won the 400-meter race in 49.82 on Friday due to force majeure.

Most surprising was Mino Flon’s victory in the pole vault. He took his chance in the absence of the best player in the world in this field, the American-Swedish Mondo Duplantes. At 4.85 he still had a quartet of challengers. At once Flon flew over him, while four others were stranded. Add to that the women’s 4 x 100m win with Nikitia Sidhu, Jamil Samuel, Tassa Jia and Claver and the Netherlands scored better than expected.

Although it was all about points in Chorzow, the organization also kept the medal standings. Then the Netherlands performed better and finished second after Italy, who were crowned European champions. Compared to the points standings, second place in the medal standings reveals that the Netherlands still perform slightly better at the top of the show.

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