Van Rhijn hints at new horizons in Nottwil

The Netherlands’ superstar world and Paralympic champion sprinter will compete over 400m at the 2014 IPC Athletics Grand Prix in Switzerland. 16 May 2014
Marlou van Rhijn

Marlou van Rhijn won the 200m T44 sprint.

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By Lewis Wood-Thompson | For the IPC

“I have to say that I really like it that the Grand Prix meetings give para-athletes a chance to meet up. So I’m especially hoping for some good competition and fun races.”

The Netherlands' double world and Paralympic champion Marlou van Rhijn has revealed that she will be competing over 400m at the IPC Athletics Grand Prix in Nottwil, Switzerland, on Sunday (18 May).

“I’m doing a 400 in Nottwil so that’s really exciting”, the 100m and 200m T43/T44 world champion said ahead of her appearance in the Swiss city.

“I haven’t done a lot of those so I’m hoping to just run a stable race and see what I’m capable of. I hear it’s a fast track.

“I’m very curious to see who’s also trying out the 400m.”

The 22-year-old, dubbed "Blade Babe," has seen her profile grow considerably over recent years, but is staying firmly grounded ahead of this year’s IPC Athletics European Championships which take place in Swansea, Great Britain, from 18-23 August.

“2013 was such a great season. I enjoyed it a lot and I certainly hope that with Swansea coming up, 2014 will be great as well,” she said.

“But, to be honest, the basics are still the same. I still train as much as I did with the desire to improve myself again.”

Beginning a packed new season and just over two years away from Rio 2016, there is no doubt in van Rhijn’s mind who will be her biggest rival this year:

“I think it will be Marie Amelie le Fur, who is obviously really fast. And I don’t suspect (USA’s) April Holmes is sitting still as well so I’m really looking forward to competing.”

France’s Le Fur beat van Rhijn to gold over 100m at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, but the Dutch woman fought back over 200m to claim the title in world record time.

Seeking revenge at the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon, France, van Rhijn forced 25-year-old le Fur into second place in both the 100m and 200m. When asked if she can sweep the podium again this year at Swansea 2014, the 2012 Dutch Disabled Sportswoman on the Year indicated that the opposition will be tough.

“I obviously hope so. But I’m aware of the competition and know I have to bring my best. That’s the great thing about sports,” she said.

“I had a really good winter season where I could train a lot and work on improving myself in every way. So it feels really good to start competing.

“I have to say that I really like it that the Grand Prix meetings give para-athletes a chance to meet up. So I’m especially hoping for some good competition and fun races.”

The 2014 IPC Athletics Grand Prix, supported by Allianz, runs from 16-18 May in Nottwil, Switzerland, and will feature around 250 athletes from more than 30 countries in the first European edition of the season.

In addition to van Rhijn’s 400m T43/T44 race on Sunday (18 May), there are a series of events taking place during a power session on Saturday (17 May) from 14:25-18:45 (CEST).

British Paralympic 1,500m T53/T54 champion David Weir will clash with Swiss world champion Marcel Hug, as well as the women’s equivalent between Hug’s teammates Manuela Schaer and Sandra Graf and American Paralympic bronze medallist Shirley Reilly.

More information can be found at the 2014 IPC Athletics Grand Prix website.

The 2014 IPC Athletics European Championships will gather 600 athletes from 40 countries for the biggest para-athletics event in Great Britain since London 2012.