As a follow-up to the disciplinary committee of the Royal Dutch Swimming Federation (KNZB) having ruled in favor of Femke Heemskerk, the freestyle ace has been granted an additional Olympic-qualifying opportunity in the women’s 50m freestyle.
Having lost her 50m freestyle qualifying spot to Valerie van Roon for this summer’s postponed Tokyo Olympic Games due to coronavirus quarantine, Heemskerk will have one last chance to qualify for the Games in the spash n’ dash. The opportunity is being granted at the Eindhoven Qualification Meet on Friday, April 9th. At that same event, van Roon may defend her position on the Olympic roster in the event.
Of note, even if Heemskerk wins this dual, she needs to beat van Roon’s leading time of 24.63 in order to replace her on the Olympic roster.
Background on the Heemskerk/van Roon situation:
As we reported last December, 33-year-old Heemskerk had to withdraw from the Rotterdam Olympic Qualification Meet at the last minute to the fact that her husband had tested positive for coronavirus. As such, the pair were placed in quarantine and the Olympic medalist was unable to compete. Her time from the 2019 FINA World Championships in Gwangju which previously put her on the list for Dutch Olympic qualification stood at 24.71.
All that needed to happen for Heemskerk to retain her OLY qualification was for no one but Ranomi Kromowidjojo, who also has already qualified in the 50m, to be faster than 24.71. However, Valerie Van Roon ripped a 24.63 lifetime best in Rotterdam to supplant Heemskerk into the 2nd Olympic qualifier.
In response to Heemskerk’s elimination in the 50m free while she sat in quarantine, some readers called the result ‘unfair’ while others said it’s all part of the game.
As for the Eindhoven opportunity, both Heemskerk and van Roon have agreed to the proposal, with the swimmer clocking the fastest time at that event set to join Ranomi Kromowidjojo on the Olympic roster.
“The KNZB intended to appeal against the decision of the disciplinary committee because we continue to believe that you cannot take into account all individual COVID cases in the qualification procedure for Tokyo,” said Technical Director André Cats. “At the same time, it is important to resolve this matter as quickly as possible in the run-up to the Games, especially in the interest of the swimmers involved. That is why a solution direction has been proposed to Valerie and Femke.
“These kinds of issues consume the energy of top athletes. As a sports association, you obviously do not want athletes to end up in such nerve-racking situations. It is therefore good that there is now clarity about what to do next. Especially for Valerie, who after a very strong race in Rotterdam thought he was sure of Tokyo, the situation is very unpleasant. ”