With the Olympic Games on the horizon, Lieke Klaver impressed last weekend by running two Dutch indoor records. The first one, on the 400 meters, she immediately lost again. But her top time on the 200 meters survived the weekend.
“ To open a season like this has something magical,” she says a day later still shimmering.
The 22-year-old Clover describes herself as someone who likes to stay in the background, but in Vienna she was resolutely in the spotlight because of her achievements. Above all, she once again proved to be one of the great Dutch talents. “It was so cool. This was the first game, so we kept it relaxed and looked a bit like a training competition, not knowing that there would be running so fast.”
Trumped by training buddy
Because things went fast in the Austrian capital, where a few mature records were finally improved. For example, Klaver won the 200 meters (which is no longer run at international indoor tournaments) with 23,17, leading to the 33 year old record of Els Vader (23.34) from the books.
For a moment she could also call herself holder of the Dutch indoor record on the 400 meter, when she improved the record of Ester Goossens from 1998 (51.82) with 51.48. Four minutes later, her training buddy Femke Bol was already faster than that new top time: 50.96.
“ I felt really good for a few minutes, and then I thought, “Shit,” says Klaver. Nevertheless, she was one of the first to congratulate Bol on the record. “Geez, boss over boss, I said to her. We make jokes about it now, just the two of us.”
And although Klaver would have preferred to have had the record in his own hands, Bols performance also motivates her. “She has run kneiterhard. Thats so beautiful to see. Were chasing each other and it motivates us both.”
Girlfriends and competitors
It is indicative of the interaction between the two athletes, who are both girlfriends and competitors. “We give it to each other and know what to each other during training sessions. In certain things, shes very good, and I can run after her. At other times she can pull herself up to me again.”
This training is done at Papendal, where the Swiss top trainer Laurent Meuwly has been scepting since a few years as a national coach. “His share is very large,” recognizes Klaver, who also praises the role of former athlete Bram Peters. “Those two together are perfect for me.”
“ Meuwly is a perfectionist, while Bram also occasionally says: let it go. They keep me balanced by the combination of the rigorous and the human.”
Last year, this resulted in an Olympic ticket with the relay women, a victory over the 400 metres at the Diamond League matches in Rome and the fastest season of a European athlete in the 200 metres.
The specialist at 200 and 400 metres appears to be ready for the Olympic Games, which will be held in Tokyo in August. Individually, she still has to earn a ticket, but that should not be a problem. At both distances she was already below the limit last season.
“ I dont care about that,” she says self-consciously. “My goal is to run a personal record. If I do, I have those limits too.”
It becomes much more difficult to choose between the two distances, which she believes cannot be combined in a tournament. “Its a choice between mom or dad.”
“I have a strong body.”
Her position on the world rankings, the competition at both distances and the order of numbers during the Olympic Games all affect her final choice. Because apart from an individual number and the 4 x 400 with the womens team, Klaver also set her sights on the 4 x 400 meter mixed relay.
Clover is not afraid that it will become too much and relies on her trainers. “Meuwly knows very well what I can handle. I have a strong body, I can have a beating.”