Ate van der Burgt has qualified for the 1500 metres at the European Athletics Championship in Paris. He beat the participation limit on Saturday 26 February, running in the wake of top athlete and pacemaker Arnoud Okken. The Athletics Union yesterday officially added him to the list.
After two nights of good sleep and a massage on Monday morning, his legs felt better again. He had to undergo a dope test in the afternoon.
This PhD student will travel to Paris on Thursday in a car driven by a friend who will be his driver and telephonist. His wife is expected to give birth to their first child in mid March and Van der Burgt wants to be able to return quickly. 'One phone call from the Netherlands and I'll be on my way. I have also talked to the federation about this. But from a statistics point of view, it'll take a while more, and excitement can also delay a birth.'
Despite the frantic state he is in, Van der Burgt looks forward to the competition enormously. 'I have shown all this while that despite a slower start, I am able to run a fast race to the finish. But to reach the finals will require a great feat. The start lists have not been released yet; I hold the 31 st time of this indoor season. It's a very strong year.'
It helps that Van der Burgt has competed in a European championship four years ago. As such, he has experienced the pressure of a major competition and being among top international athletes all at once. 'I am familiar with the cracking of a whip.' The 1500-metres event will begin on Saturday 5 March at 14:50 hours. The finals will be held on Sunday 6 March at 16:20 hours. All two events will be broadcast 'live' on the BBC.