European 100m and 200m champion to switch heptathlon for sprints

Dutch athlete Dafne Schippers has confirmed her intention to focus on sprint events rather than the heptathlon.

The 22-year-old is the national record-holder for the heptathlon as well as the 100m and 200m and following her great recent form in the sprints, including a time of 10.94 for 100m in Hengelo, she has decided to concentrate on that area rather than multi events for now as she works towards the IAAF World Championships in Beijing and the Rio Olympics.

“SPRINT it is,” Schippers tweeted on Wednesday. “A very tough decisions. But it feels good for now. I’m looking forward to the WC Athletics and Olympics.”

Having won the 2010 world junior and 2011 European junior heptathlon titles, Schippers finished 12th in the seven-discipline event at the London 2012 Olympics. She went on to win 100m gold and long jump bronze at the 2013 European Under-23 Championships before claiming world heptathlon bronze in Moscow later that year.

The past 12 months have seen her win European 60m, 100m and 200m titles but she recently pulled out of the heptathlon ahead of the final event, the 800m, at the Hypo-Meeting in Gotzis with a minor knee problem.

Schippers’ decision to focus on the sprints could see a deeper on-track rivalry develop between her and Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith, with the world junior 100m champion having broken the national 100m record with her time of 11.02 behind Schippers in Hengelo.

When asked after her British record-breaking performance whether it feels like she has got quite a rivalry going with Schippers, Asher-Smith said: “That is so weird to say because she is one of those athletes that I absolutely look up to, especially because she does both the heptathlon and sprints at such a good level, it’s absolutely amazing. For you to say that it’s kind of like a rivalry is kind of weird! I still need to get my head around that but it’s a big compliment!”