Netherlands take their biggest Olympic athletics team ever of 47 competitors to Paris

AMSTERDAM - The Netherlands are going to Paris with their largest athletics team ever: 47 athletes are in the official squad, the Royal Dutch Athletics Federation said. "This is reflected in many individual starts across a wide range of components. That is a very nice observation. It is then important that we can perform at our best in Paris," technical director Vincent Kortbeek stated. 

Most eyes will be on multiple-time world and European champion Femke Bol and two-time Olympic champion Sifan Hassan. Bol will compete in the 400-meter hurdles and will have tough competition in the battle for gold with American world record holder Sydney Mclaughlin-Levrone. Hassan can compete in the 1,500, 5,000, 10,000 meters, and marathon. She will announce her choice at a later stage. 

With shot putter Jessica Schilder, the Netherlands has another reigning European champion in their squad besides Bol. Jorinde van Klinken will also be with the team in Paris. Last month, she won Silver at the European Championships in the shot put and discus throw in Rome, something that last happened 46 years ago. 

The Dutch delegation in Tokyo consisted of 43 athletes three years ago. This resulted in a record number of eight medals. 

Hassan got gold at 5,000 and 10,000 meters and brons at the 1,500 meters. Marathon runner Abdi Nageeye took Silver, as did the men's 4x400 relay team. Anouk Vetter (Silver) and Emma Oosterwegel (brons) were together on the podium at the multi-sport race, and Bol got Brons in the 400-meter hurdles. Except for the relay team, they are all present this time around in Paris. 

The women's relay team will compete in the 4x400 meters and has a good chance of winning a medal. Bol, Lieke Klaver, Cathelijn Peeters, and Lisanne de Witte won the world title in a Dutch record time in Budapest last year. Eveline Saalberg, Myrte van der Schoot, and Anne van de Wiel complete the relay team in Paris. 

The relay teams for the mixed 4x400 meters and the men's 4x100 meters will also appear during the Olympic athletics tournament, which lasts from August 2 to 11. The sprinters thought they had failed to qualify when Botswana had a quicker time in the African championships and, with that, had taken over the 16th spot in the world rankings. However, their time was not approved by the World Athletics Association.