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NED Athletics: Bennema removed as head short sprint/hurdles coach, replaced by Meuwly

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  • NED Athletics: Bennema removed as head short sprint/hurdles coach, replaced by Meuwly

    Bart Bennema has been replaced as head coach to the short sprinters & hurdlers, the group merging with the long sprinters under the technical direction of Laurent Meuwly & his team.

    Dafne Schippers, Bennema's most high profile athlete, had left him already last season, whilst Nadine Visser severed ties earlier this month. Now the Dutch Federation, the Athletics Union, has decided to terminate Bennema's position - although his contract remains until 2024 - due to the poor performances over the last couple of seasons.

    Meuwly will take up the reins with his team of Bram Peters, Rogier Ummels and Brendan Troost.



    Bart has had an interesting career path, starting off as a multi events coach, before specialising in the sprints and hurdles. I still think he has a lot to offer in the multievents. Perhaps he will seek opportunities outside the Netherlands.


  • #2
    Interesting that the Athletics Union would select such a controversial figure.

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    • #3
      I wondered about this, after the sprint relays had such a miserable year. It seemed possible that action would be taken. IMO, Andrea Bouma leading off the 4 x 100 in Eugene was kind of symbolic of the year. She's not a sprinter at all. She's in the 400 group and basically 5th in the relay rotation. But she was forced into sprint relay duty in Eugene due to absences, injuries and overall lack of talent.

      Visser's event is getting faster but she's stalled and falling behind, while into her late 20s. I wasn't surprised when she announced the coaching change on Instagram a few weeks ago. It seemed like a case of exploration and hope more than certainty she was making the correct choice. I'm not sure if she realized Meuwly's group would be taking over. Considering her stature within the program, likely yes.

      Part of me wonders if Meuwly isn't doing this because it will allow greater numbers and therefore potential to steer a sprinter toward his more prized 400 distance. That's almost guaranteed to happen at some point. He's already got an example under his wing with Kielbasinka. Also Taymir Burnet on the men's side.

      I feel bad for the old sprint coach in some respects. There really is a void in let's say the 21-25 age block on both sides. And that was evident for years while watching those Hortas Sotra videos. But the generation immediately below does have some intriguing prospects. That's probably why Meuwly doesn't mind the added role.

      Matthew Sophia is the top talent, a 110 hurdler with a great explosive start and raw ability. But he is a kamikaze type who hits as many hurdles as he misses. He also competes so seldom I lose interest and have no idea what is going on. I'm not sure a guy like that would even agree to train at Papendal. He looks like someone who needs lots of attention. I won't say babysitting but I just did. But there's a young sprinter named Raphael Bouju who is only a year older than Sophia and appears to share many of the same beliefs. Perhaps they can bond.

      On the women's side the best young talent is N'ketia Seedo, who really seized the moment at the World U20 Championships and ran faster than I thought she was capable of. Fortunately it resulted in a shared bronze after initially she was ruled off the podium by .001. Zoe Sedney is the top hurdler behind Visser. She needs to lose some weight, IMO.

      I can't think of anyone else on that side who is an up and comer, with the possible exception of Britt de Blaauw. She was quick at 200 a few years ago at age 15 but hasn't improved since then. I'm not sure if there was an injury, or what happened. She was someone I had in mind who might eventually prefer the 400, based on the few races I've seen from the YouTube channel. She always closes late. Also a very good athlete with a 6 meter jump at very young age. She could be a candidate for 400 hurdles also. Her short hurdling technique looks good. There was a 44.1 at 300 hurdles at age 15 then for whatever reason she never attempted the longer hurdles again.

      The larger combined group is probably good news for Ajla Del Ponte, after the frustrating season. She's been training with the 400 group and as far as I know has been mostly alone in terms of sprint specialist within that camp.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Awsi Dooger View Post
        IMO, Andrea Bouma leading off the 4 x 100 in Eugene was kind of symbolic of the year. She's not a sprinter at all. She's in the 400 group and basically 5th in the relay rotation. But she was forced into sprint relay duty in Eugene due to absences, injuries and overall lack of talent.
        That choice was an...interesting one. They should have run Visser, and I'm not sure why they didn't. Granted, she was carrying an injury, but her opening hurdles heat was the next day, surely she could have run the first leg? The 0.7 difference between NED and SUI on leg 1 was the difference at the end of the race; they were closely matched on the other 3 legs. As you know, Klaver was in the 4x1 as a reserve. I do wonder whether, prior to Eugene, she was expected to make the 400m final and run so well? If she had not, then I'm sure she would have run leg 1 (or another leg) instead of Bouma.
        Next year in Budapest the timetable should not be problematic. The w4x1 heats are the same evening as the w200m F but I doubt any Dutch woman would reach that. Visser can certainly run the 4x1 again, the 100mh event will be over before the relay heats. Klaver could be drafted in, in an emergency, in the 4x1 hts. She could in theory also run the 4x1 final, which is 1 hr 50 after the 4x4 hts. However, I would also state that not reaching the 4x1 is not exactly a disaster, there are lots of nations with sprinting pedigree and history and 13th overall for such a small nation is still good.

        The Dutch have the set-up for elite athletics, they just simply do not have the numbers. For such a small nation, they cannot afford for the top juniors to do other sports, but, alas, they have historically gone into other events. I think Bol et al might inspire more youngsters to stick to athletics though, just as Schippers inspired others.

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