Femke Bol began her outdoor campaign with her fastest ever season’s opener in the 400m hurdles at the IFAM Meeting in Oordegem in Belgium, a World Athletics Continental Tour Challenger event, on Saturday (27).
Ahead of her first big race of the season in the Florence Diamond League on Friday (2), Bol sped to a world leading time of 53.12 in her specialist event.
According to her coach Laurent Meuwly, this was the first time Bol has tried out her new 14-stride approach in a competitive environment.
"I especially wanted fourteen strides to the seventh hurdle. That went well. After that it became a bit of a mess. The fact this time still comes out shows that those fourteen strides work well. I still had a lot left in the end so I'm very happy," said Bol as reported by NOS.
Bol won by over two seconds from Finland’s former European U18 champion Viivi Lehikoinen (55.35) with fellow Dutchwoman Cathelijn Peeters third in a lifetime best of 55.44.
Nick Smidt won the men’s 400m hurdles in a lifetime best of 48.70, beating European bronze medallist Thomas Barr from Ireland in 49.05.
Dutch athletes also dominated the women’s 200m. Tasa Jiya broke the 23 second-barrier for the first time with 22.95 to nudge out European indoor 400m silver medallist Lieke Klaver by 0.02.
Other highlights included Belgium’s Rani Rosius winning the 100m in 11.20 and Germany’s Manuel Sanders winning the 400m in 45.47.
Fast times en masse in the 5000m
Oordegem is one of the go-to venues in Europe for fast early season times in the middle and long distances and lifetime bests were set en masse in the 1500m and 5000m.
Behind Mohamed Ismail who won the 5000m in 13:11.13 - a national record for Djibouti - European 10,000m bronze medallist Yann Schrub from France was a close second in 13:11.44 with Norway’s Henrik Ingebrigtsen returning to form in third in 13:13.99, lifetime best performances for both.
At the other end of the career spectrum, two of Europe’s brightest distance running prospects also smashed their lifetime best.
In his first race of the season, double European U18 champion Niels Laros, who turned 18 last month, clocked 13:23.01 - a time which has only ever been bettered by Jakob Ingebrigtsen among European U20 athletes - while reigning European U20 3000m champion Nick Griggs set an Irish U20 record of 13:36.47.
There was more Norwegian success in the 1500m with Narve Gilje Nordås winning in a big lifetime best of 3:34.70 ahead of Mike Foppen from the Netherlands in 3:36.00.
Full results here.