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February 22, 2023

Why Femke Bol’s Indoor 400m World Record Is A Big Deal

Do not tell me indoors doesn’t matter! Following up on her 500m world record earlier this season, Femke Bol has now broken a much more sought-after mark, one that has stood since 1982. At the Dutch Indoor Championships, the Olympic and World silver medalist (over hurdles) ran 49.26 (not over hurdles) to break Jarmila Kratochvílová’s previous best of 49.59.

This is a big deal for two reasons, the first being whose record she broke. While competing for Czechoslovakia, Kratochvílová was one of the most decorated and strongest runners ever — it was like she possessed superhuman abilities! A year after running the 400m indoor world record, she would go on to set the then 400m record of 47.99 and the still standing 800m world record of 1:53.28.

Our lawyers are telling me that I should stop talking about Jarmila right now… anyway!

In terms of living in the present, this indoor season Bol has proven that her flat 400m abilities are apparently on par with Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone’s. While Sydney’s 400m best of 50.07 from 2018 is quite outdated, her 47.91 split from the World Championships is more or less equivalent. Combine this with Bol’s offseason development of a 14-step alternating leg pattern and am I nuts to think we are gonna have a race on our hands?

For all that we know, SML is about to turn the world upside down with a 13-step sequence this outdoor season. She certainly remains the person to beat and the best to ever do it until proven otherwise. But the fact that this is now a conversation indicates the power of a good indoor season. Because if I am having this thought, then so is Femke. And the first step to beating someone is believing it is possible.

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