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Jackson predicts Schippers can go a long way

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A year ago in Zurich, when Dafne Schippers achieved the 100m and 200m double at the European Athletics Championships, she was undecided whether to become a sprinter or stay as a heptathlete.

Turn the clock forward to late afternoon at the Olympic Stadium in London on Saturday and her smile revealed how she had made the right choice.

Schippers, 23, had just won the 100m final at the Anniversary Games in London with a Dutch national record of 10.92, strengthening her position as Europe’s No. 1 and in the process beating Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare, the world No. 3 who has run 10.80 this summer, and five American runners.

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It means Schippers is now eighth on that list heading into the IAAF World Championships in Beijing next month, showing credentials that not only can she go even faster but could arguably become Europe’s quickest ever woman.

The European 100m record has stood since 1998 when France’s Christine Arron ran 10.73 when she won the European title in Budapest but Colin Jackson, the former world 110m hurdles champion and a BBC commentator in London, predicted change is in the air.

He said after Schippers’ victory: 'Who would have thought in that line-up the winner would have been a heptathlete?

'But she is a quality sprinter, Dafne Schippers, and when she nails it, she can go under that 10.80 mark and I really believe she can challenge the European record.

'Right now she has improved every single year, she gets really confident at the back end of the race, and if she is in contention, because she is such a powerful athlete, she has that strength, and she maintains her form, which is always going to be crucial.'

Schippers did not make the best of starts, an area she knows she has to work on, but had enough of that power to triumph.

'It was a difficult decision to choose the sprints over heptathlon but I think I am a sprinter now and it feels good. I am more relaxed every race, it's better for me to do only one thing,' said Schippers, whose previous best this summer was 10.94 from Hengelo in May.

'Now I can focus only on the sprints, I can focus on my start and that was difficult to do when I was in the heptathlon.

'For the 100m in Beijing, I hope to get to the final then we will see, and for the 200m the same thing. It is good that people from Europe can beat girls from America and Jamaica, it feels good.'

It was indeed some day for European women’s sprinting because Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith achieved a major landmark of her own as she broke 11-seconds for the first time, winning the opening heat in 10.99, the same time that Schippers won the second heat.

Asher-Smith, the world junior 100m champion and 2013 European junior 200m champion, was fourth in the final in 11.06.

'It has been absolutely amazing,” said Asher-Smith. “I thought I was in good shape but I didn't realise I was in that good shape.

'Well done to Dafne because making the switch from heptathlon to sprints isn't easy but she has made it look like she was made for it.'