Series21 Nov 2016

First impressions – Dafne Schippers


Dafne Schippers in action at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 (© Getty Images)

Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers is one of the most high-profile athletes in the world. Here the world 200m champion and Olympic silver medallist answers our first impressions questions.

First coach

My first ever coach was Dolores. I was aged nine at the time and from my first experiences I liked the sport. Of course, at such a young age, athletics was more playful back then, but reflecting on my early days in the sport, it was so joyful. I quickly became addicted to athletics.  

First race

I always had a winning mentality, so even back as a child I wanted to give everything I had, no matter what kind of game or sport I was doing. I recall finishing second in my first ever club race. I was so proud of that silver medal.

First media interview

I cannot recall my first ever interview, but what I do know is I received some serious media attention after my heptathlon gold medal at the 2010 World U20 Championships in Moncton, Canada.

First international competition

My first real international experience came at the 2009 European Junior Championships in Novi Sad. Up against girls up to two years older, I finished fourth in the heptathlon, registering a personal best. I was very proud, but at the same time determined to improve because I knew that I had another opportunity at the next European Junior Championships in Tallinn two years later.

First sport

Before athletics I played tennis. I was not a great tennis player. I was fast but I did not have very good ball control. The harder I tried the less control I had! The tennis club organised a sponsored run. In that race people were impressed by my running style and recommended I join an athletics club.

First international medal

That came at the 2010 World Junior Championships in Moncton. It was my first medal and it was gold! It was a very tough competition with Germany’s Sara Gambetta pushing me hard right throughout the competition. It was such a great feeling to win such a great championship.

First athletics disappointment

I am not too good at recalling disappointments. I tend to try to forget them and focus on the next race. In some respects my period as a heptathlete was disappointing because I kept picking up injuries, especially to my knee. This was frustrating because if my body had stood up to the rigours of the event, I believed I could have scored more points than my PB. However, looking back, I am glad I made the decision to go for the sprints. It turned out to be a good choice.

First sporting hero

Honestly, I don’t have many sporting heroes. The former Dutch heptathlon record holder Karin Ruckstuhl was someone I wanted to one day emulate. Later on I admired Jessica Ennis-Hill. She is such a friendly person and, of course, a great heptathlete.  

First toy

I do recall I had a teddy bear I took it everywhere with me. After a while there was not much left of the bear, but I still could not bring myself to throw it away.

First thing learned to cook

It was cupcakes, the ones you make with all kinds of colourful sprinkles and other decorations. I was a child, but I don’t remember exactly how old I was. 

First car

It was a Volkswagen Polo, a sponsor car, provided by the Dutch Olympic Committee. It was brand new and it allowed me to drive from my home in Utrecht to Papendal, where I train. I owned it for three or four years.

First pet

The one I recall was Floris the dog. I can’t remember too much of him, but he was a sweet dog who often used to run away.

Steve Landells for the IAAF