The runner to watch was in Lane 2, and he or she was exhausting to miss: Jolien Boumkwo of Belgium was a head taller than each different lady within the second warmth of the 100-meter hurdles.
Boumkwo recurrently competes in observe and area’s power occasions — the shot-put, hammer throw and discus — however on Saturday on the European Team Championships in Krakow, Poland, Belgium wanted a hurdler. Any hurdler.
The two it had introduced to the meet had been injured, and if Belgium didn’t ship a runner to the beginning line within the 100 hurdles, its crew could be disqualified.
So when it grew to become clear there have been no different candidates to step in, Boumkwo volunteered.
“I thought the chance would have been very small of me having to do this,” mentioned Boumkwo, who discovered she could be working the hurdles the day earlier than the race. Once it grew to become clear she was going to be the one on the beginning line, she mentioned she tried to not give it some thought an excessive amount of.
She mentioned she advised herself: “If I’m going to do this, I want to make the best of it and try to enjoy it.”
And it looks like that’s precisely what she did. Boumkwo beamed and waved on the tv cameras when she was launched with the remainder of the runners.
Form was not her precedence. Neither was velocity, despite the fact that she remembered the methods of hurdling, Boumkwo, 29, mentioned in a cellphone interview on Monday. On Friday, she had completed seventh within the shot-put.
Boumkwo mentioned she wasn’t nervous concerning the race. “It was a beautiful atmosphere,” she mentioned. “I took my race seriously,” including that she “took it hurdle by hurdle.”
While she was very pleased with the position she performed for her crew, she mentioned she’d stick to her personal sport for now. “I’m not made for hurdling,” she mentioned.
Belgium wanted each level. Its crew hoped to keep within the high division of the European Team Championships, an occasion by which international locations compete towards their relative friends in three leagues which are based mostly on efficiency. Disqualification would more than likely imply demotion for Belgium. Running, even when she completed final, would imply two helpful factors, which she knew may make the distinction.
And so, for one afternoon, Boumkwo grew to become a hurdler. Stepping relatively than leaping over every hurdle, after which jogging to the following one, she took her time. The relaxation of the sector was already over their second hurdle and sprinting towards the following when Boumkwo lifted her foot ever-so-carefully over the primary one.
Her aim was to end, and to end on her ft, nonetheless lengthy it took. An embarrassing fall most likely wouldn’t have made a distinction — she knew she was going to be final — however an damage undoubtedly would have made issues worse. Carefully and calmly, she cleared each impediment and crossed the end line in 32.81 seconds.
The crowd cheered in appreciation. A fellow runner, Maja Maunsbach of Sweden, greeted Boumkwo simply previous the road with a double-handed excessive 5. Catarina Queiros of Portugal, who had run within the lane subsequent to Boumkwo, prolonged a hand of congratulations.
Both Maunsbach, who was seventh, and Queiros, who was sixth, had completed fractions of a second behind the warmth’s winner, Teresa Errandonea of Spain, who won in 13.22 seconds.
The storybook ending for Boumkwo and Belgium, nonetheless, was not to be. Belgium completed 14th within the crew standings, 6.5 factors behind Greece — a hole too giant for even Boumkwo to make up — and was demoted to Division 2.
Boumkwo mentioned the demotion was disappointing however that she was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and assist. “This was probably my best European Championship ever,” she mentioned. “I got something very nice out of it.”