Femke Bol has begun her 2023 outdoor season quite well. After winning two golds in the European Indoors, Femke has opened outdoors with a 52.43 WL in the 400m hurdles and 50.11 at 400 meters. 

What follows are 13 questions for Femke Bol from Stuart Weir. 

13 Questions for Femke Bol

RunBlogRun #1, What are your memories of the Olympic final in Tokyo?

Femke Bol: It was just amazing because I’d been training the whole year thinking, ‘I want a medal in Tokyo’.  Then you get there and think, ‘I’m at the Olympics.  I’m in the best shape of my life.  Now I got to perform’.  I was just going round to round, but I enjoyed every moment.  When I reached the final, I took a moment to enjoy the fact that I’d made the Olympic final, but I knew I wanted more.  In the final, I went out like crazy and tried to stay close to them [Sydney and Dalilah] but then I died.  But I was happy because I knew I’d done everything I could do.  Running in a world record race is always amazing because you are against the best.  For me, as an athlete, that’s what I love.  Of course, you want to be the best, but it’s cool to be able to race Sydney, the best ever in the world and try a one day to beat that person – perhaps never.  But to see how fast they can go and Dalilah also went fast.   

Femke Bol is wearing a Sigma Aria upper with our new FuelCell MDX v3 midsole utilizing our new FuelCell midsole material, debuting in 2024. Photo from #Istanblu2023, phot courtesy of New Balance

RunBlogRun, #2, The times in 400h gone mad!  The world record stood for 16 years then Dalilah broke it twice and Sydney four times.  What is going on?

Femke Bol: I think it’s amazing and also because of the coincidence that it is also happening on the men’s side.  In 2019 I was pretty new to the event, but as Dalilah said in a press conference, it has been so nice to see the event grow that it is now one of the highlights of the championship.  People are saying, ‘I want to watch the 400 hurdles’.  It’s amazing to be part of it. I think Sydney and also Dalilah broke huge barriers.  People wondered if someone would ever run a 51, and now Sydney is running a 50.  It shows that so much more is possible than we think, and I want to be part of it.  Sydney and Dalilah have pushed me to want to be a better athlete and run faster. I think it’s amazing. For me, of course, the hurdles is the best event but it’s great that more people think of it like that now. 

RunBlogRun, #3, Talk about Sydney

Femke Bol:  I think she’s amazing.  She’s a great runner and in great shape.  It’ll be hard to compete with her.  Perhaps I will be second on the world stage my whole career, but I’m training not to be.  But for sure, it is possible.

Femke Bol, congrats Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammed, photo by World Athletics

RunBlogRun, #4, How do you assess your talent? Fast, who can hurdle or technically good hurdler?

Femke Bol: technically, I’m not yet a good hurdler; I think I have a lot to learn.  But equally, I think that speed is not the most natural thing to me.  I work hard to get more speed.  But with the fatigue and the lactic, I keep thinking, what is the right pace? I think that is where my talent is.  Also, in a 400 flat, what the pace should feel like.  I love to go through the lactic and go deeper and go faster.  Or in training, when I am full of lactic, can I do one more – when we have a lot of reps in a session.  I think that is it, and I need to continue to be able to think and plan because you need a good plan.

RunBlogRun, #5, Are you surprised how quickly you because world-class?

Femke Bol:  Yes, sometimes I am surprised!  Especially in 2021 when I went from 53.7 to 52.03 and on the same spikes with nothing changed.  I sometimes ask how I have achieved these things, but I do work hard for it and do so many things for it. It’s not like I click my fingers, and I get it.  But still, there are a lot of other athletes who train just as hard and are not achieving these things.  I do ask how I have achieved this, and I think it’s amazing.  I am enjoying it a lot, which helps.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY – MARCH 04: Femke Bol of the Netherlands celebrates alongside Lieke Klaver of the Netherlands after winning the Women’s 400m Final during Day 2 of the European Athletics Indoor Championships at the Atakoy Arena on March 04, 2023 in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

RunBlogRun, #6, You once said that you like chasing someone down in relays.  In contrast, in the hurdles, you are usually winning.

Femke Bol: Yes, but that’s what I like about the hurdles.  Hurdles are chasing, but you’re chasing the hurdles, not a person.  There’s also the challenge of having 10 hurdles and the thinking and going from hurdle to hurdle.  I really like that feeling that you’re still chasing something.  I love relays, but I love my hurdles a bit more.

Femke Bol, 4x400m Mixed, photo by World Athletics

RunBlogRun, #7, At the European Championship, you did two individual events – 400 flat and hurdles – as well as the relay.  Might you do that again?  

Femke Bol:  It was a really good experience, and I enjoyed it a lot, but it was a very hard challenge. I achieved it, and I should be happy and leave it like that! It’s not likely that I will do it again.

RunBlogRun, #8, You are a busy athlete. Why do you race so much?

Femke Bol:  I love racing; that’s my favorite part.  I love training, but I also love racing.  I also think racing is a way to try new things and get into a rhythm.  You could say I don’t need them, but I like them.  I think Diamond Leagues are huge, and I still well remember my first Diamond League and thinking, “Whoa, I’m allowed to race in the Diamond League with all these top athletes”.  It’s just one of the competitions, and I love to race in them.  If I can, I like to run in Diamond Leagues – if it’s not too much.  I think it’s a nice for the sport to do different races.  Sometimes I don’t run as fast as I want to, but I’m still trying to develop in the races.

I’m happy that I have good coaches around me to organize it for me.  In 2021, I raced a lot before the Olympics, but in 2022 not so many, but I trust my coaches and will do whatever they say.  After the 2022 world, I had to be ready and to mentally reload for the Europeans.  Knowing that I have to do that helps.

Femke Bol sets the World record at 500 meters! New Balance Indoor Grand Prix Track & Field
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
February 3, 2023
World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold meeting, photo by Kevin Morris

RunBlogRun, #9, Tell me about your training set-up?

Femke Bol:  Laurent Meuwly and Bram Peters are my coaches.  I train at Papendal, the National Dutch Sports Center.  There is a big group, I think fourteen 400m runners.  And also Ajla Del Ponte from Switzerland. So it’s a pretty nice group to be in.  We train hard, a lot of tough training – some do more endurance, others more speed.  It’s a big group, but training is adapted to the person.  I think it’s a nice atmosphere that we train in.  In the end, we’re all sore and tired, but we keep having fun.  We work together and push each other on.  It’s a great place to be and one of the best places in which to become one of the best athletes.

Femke Bol, Olympic bronze medalist, 400m hurdles,
World Athletics Championships
Eugene, Oregon, USA
July15-26, 2022
400m hurdles, Bol, Netherlands, photo by Kevin Morris

RunBlogRun, #10, How much hurdling do you do?

Femke Bol:  It depends on when in the season.  Sometimes I do hurdles one day a week and perhaps some drills another day.  As we get nearer to the summer season, I usually do two and sometimes three hurdle sessions.

RunBlogRun, #11, What is Femke the person like?

Femke Bol:  I mainly like to see my family, friends, and boyfriend because I’m often away, for example, at training camps in South Africa.  So I like to be at home – or in Belgium where my boyfriend lives – just to see them because family and friends are really important to me.  I miss them a lot, so seeing them is a huge thing.  At training camps, I like to read and try to learn some French.  I like to drink coffee.  Not too many things because I train so much that I am tired at the end of the day.

Femke Bol won 3 gold medalists in the 2022 European Outdoor Athletics Championships, photo by European Athletics.

RunBlogRun, #12, I asked about stride patterns to show that this is a proper athletics interview.

Femke Bol:  If I’m in good shape right now, I start with 15 and end with 15.  So I pretty much keep the same rhythm the whole time, but it feels quite different because I think I’m moving super-fast for the first three hurdles, but then towards the end, I bounce to get through the hurdles because of the fatigue and lactic in the legs.  I really like fifteens and everything on the same leg.  Sometimes early in the season, because I wasn’t in the best shape, I would do two times 16, or if I’m tired towards the end, I might do the last hurdle in 16, but that’s not good as it means that I take the last hurdle with my bad leg and lose a lot of speed.

Femke Bol takes the 400m hurdles! photo by Munich 2022

RunBlogRun, #13, If you had a perfect season in 2023, might you reduce the strides?

Femke Bol:  We are trying to change my strides and to go to 14 because last year I was way too close to the hurdles, and my coach said we wanted to try another year at 15 because I made a huge breakthrough, and you need to prove to yourself that you can perform at that level.  And now we know that 2023 is one year to the Olympics, so this is the year to change something.  So we’re going to try to go to 14.  In 2022 I got faster, just on speed level, but it was just too hard between hurdles, so I think it’s a good change for me.  But, of course, I have to try it and see how it goes.  But I’m looking forward to it.

Femke Bol Wins the Women’s 400 Hurdles with a time of 52.43s at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Rome/Florence, Italy on 2 June 2023, photo by MATTHEW QUINE FOR DIAMOND LEAGUE AG