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Mathew T George
Mathew T George

RIO 2016

Dafne Schippers

98DafneSchippers Getty Images

100m & 200m, The Netherlands

She has acne on her face and back. Hence, it is quite possible that she is on steroids, the pundits said. No, she is not, said the Dutch press corps. Her mother and sister have the same skin condition, they insisted. Actually, more than Schippers, the Dutch media seemed to trust her coach Bart Bennema. And, surprisingly, many international coaches, too, came to Bennema’s defence. He would never encourage or condone it, they said. But, why the suspicion at all?

Go to YouTube and type in ‘Schippers wins 200m gold IAAF Beijing’. Sit back and watch the short video. And, you will see the blonde in the orange and black two-piece spandex outfit zooming past Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson in the very end of the race. Schippers’s time: 21.63. She had also picked up the 100m silver in Beijing.

Only two women had finished the 200m faster than Schippers: Florence Griffith Joyner and Marion Jones. Flo-Jo was legally clear, but always under a shadow. Jones confessed, and was imprisoned for doping. Hence, the unfair grilling of ‘The Flying Dutchwoman’.

“I know why the questions come, but it’s hard sometimes,” Schippers had told the media. And, about her skin, she said, “I don’t like the fact my skin is like this. For a woman, to have this problem, it’s not very nice. People say things too easily.” She also realises that the needle of suspicion points at her because of the route she took into sprinting. She finished 11th in the heptathlon at London 2012, and moved into full time sprinting only in 2014.

Also, there is the bias that she is a European. Sprinting is usually the preserve of Jamaicans and African Americans. For example, in Rio, her biggest rival in the 100m would be Olympic and world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica. In the 200m, she has an almost clear track after defending champion Allyson Felix failed to qualify.

Those who think Europeans cannot do it, must look to London 1948, where Dutch legend Fanny Blankers-Koen won four Olympic sprint titles—100m, 200m, 80m hurdles and the 4x100m relay. ‘The Flying Housewife’, as she was called, was 30 and a mother of two. Her son, Jan, now 74, told The Associated Press that Schippers reminded him of his mother.

And, there is more to the 23-year-old Schippers than running. Rumours are on that she has something special with Nick Rotteveel van Gotum, aka Nicky Romero, a Dutch DJ and music producer. And, then there is the food blog she runs with sister Sanne. The latest post is about her new-found love. “Nope, this is not about Nick. ;),” she writes. “Although, it is one of our favourite topics these days: photography! Which lens is best to use, what’s the deal with the incoming light, how about the shutter time and the lens opening? I’m in love!”

Why don’t you check out, and see for yourself?

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