Femke Bol is an Olympic medallist. But when she started her career, she never believed she belonged to the top rung. Last year in Tokyo, when she won the bronze medal, she was visibly surprised and happy. The Dutch girl had no regret in finishing third in a historic race that shaw all the three medallists setting the top three marks in women’s 400m hurdles.
Now in the much-anticipated World Athletics Championships in Oregon, if there is one athlete who could grab the gold from an in-form Sydney McLaughlin in women’s 400m hurdles it is Bol, the second-fastest woman of the season at 52.27 seconds. McLaughlin, the fastest hurdler of the year, is the reigning Olympic champion and silver medallist at the last edition of the Worlds in Doha.
For someone who had dreamt of a top 12 finish in the Olympics, her rise as one of the biggest contenders for the World Championships gold in the only fourth year of her hurdling career is a fascinating tale.
Bol started athletics, following in the steps of her brother. Initially, she chose the 400m sprint. But she never believed she could make it to the higher level until the change happened in 2019. She started hurdling just for the sake of adding fun to her training. As she enjoyed it, she made it her pet event. A semifinal finish in the 2019 World Championships in Doha further elevated her confidence.
In a span of two years in the pandemic-delayed Olympics, she became a bronze medallist while setting the third-fastest timing at 52.03s.
Now, as an in-form Bol is determined to win her maiden World Championship gold at the Hayward Field, it will be a battle between her and McLaughlin, considering that defending champion Dalilah Muhammad is nursing a hamstring injury.