Femke Bol Breaks Oldest Indoor Track Record in the 400m


Jonathan Buscher

Dutch runner Femke Bol recently set a new world record in the women’s indoor 400 meters on Sunday, February 19, 2023. Racing in her home country at the Dutch Indoor Championships, Bol ran a time of 49.26 seconds, enough to beat the previous record of 49.59 seconds, set in 1982 by Jarmila Kratochvílová. Kratochvílová’s record was the oldest in track, and barely the second oldest in track and field, only being beaten out by the indoor shot put record set by Helena Fibingerová in 1977. 

Bol attributed her success in the race to the fans there supporting her, as she said that “It was because of all the fans here that I ran this record.” Starting off in lane six, the outermost lane of the indoor track, Bol started off strong with a 200m time of 23.63 before cutting into the innermost lane. Attempting to hold onto pace, Bol finished the second lap fast, with her teammate Lieke Klaver on her tail the entire way, who placed second with a time of 50.34. 

In an interview with World Athletics, Bol shared some insight into her emotions regarding the huge accomplishment. She noted that “I was hoping to run the record, of course, but in life you hope for a lot of things and most of the time it does not happen,” along with the fact that she was particularly pleased with the margin by which the record was earned. While it might not seem like much, the difference between the records of 0.33 seconds is large in the context of a 400-meter race. Bol also recounted the joy of the moment, stating that “Never have I ever seen that many people here. When I crossed the line, I knew that the record was mine because of the noise that the crowd made.”

The twenty-two-year-old athlete has had other major successes over the last few years as well. In 2022, Bol not only won the bronze medal for the 400-meter hurdles at the Tokyo Olympic Games but also won a silver medal in the same event at the World Championships. The bronze medal makes her the third fastest 400-meter hurdler in history, only coming behind the gold and silver medalists in the Olympics, Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone and Dalilah Muhammad. In addition to this, Bol already has some world-bests under her belt, holding the record for the 300-meter hurdles, along with the best 500-meter record of 1:05.63, achieved in Boston during her first race of the season this year. Bol has been aiming for this record for a while now, despite only having broken 50 seconds indoors the previous Sunday in Metz with a time of 49.96 seconds. She also achieved an overall 400-meter record for herself, besting her outdoor PR of 49.44 seconds. 

Next, Bol could be gunning for the current outdoor 400-meter record of 47.60, held by Marita Koch, a German runner from 1982. At only twenty-two years old, Bol certainly has the potential to continue breaking records through her running career. 

A video of Femke Bol’s record-breaking race can be watched here.