Dutch Courage

Performances of character light up every Olympics, and some make a lasting impact. Two Dutch women, competing a lifetime apart, will always be remembered.

In 1948 Fanny Blankers-Koen, a 30 year old mother of two, entered four sprint events. World War Two had deprived her of the chance to compete in 1940 and 1944, when most people believed she would have been at her peak. Female competitors of her era faced barriers that seem absurd today. Early in her career Blankers-Koen showed talent over 800 metres but was unable to show it at Olympic level because the event’s governing body believed running two laps of the track was too physically demanding for a woman. When she lined up to race in 1948, critics told her to go home and look after her children. Gold medals in the 100 metres, 200 metres, 80 metres hurdles and 4 x 100 metres relay began to change the perception of what women and mothers could achieve in competitive sport.

Sixty years after Fanny Blankers-Koen’s landmark performance, a young Ethiopian refugee arrived in Eindhoven. Sifan Hassan’s talent for athletics marked her out from an early age. At 21 she was European 1500 metres champion, and she came to Tokyo with the audacious and unprecedented goal of winning the 1500 metres, 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres. When she was knocked to the ground in her 1500 metres heat the dream seemed to be over when it had barely begun, but she got up and stormed through the field to win. Seven hard races in rapid succession saw her take bronze in the 1500m final and gold in both longer races. The challenges Hassan has faced in her life are very different to those of her compatriots of the 1930s and 1940s, but once again a Dutch woman is standing on top of the podium, changing perceptions of what is humanly possible.

At XTM we believe in enabling human potential too. We do it with a translation management system that automates what can and should be automated and frees up linguists and project managers to use their talent. We do it by offering vendor-neutrality that unshackles users from unwanted service partnerships, delivering freedom to choose the right provider for the right project, making it easier to employ specialist skills for specialist tasks. We believe the advanced application of AI – automation with a purpose – is the key to fulfilling human potential. So when we enhance XTM Cloud translation memory management, making it possible to configure Netherlands Dutch and Belgian Dutch as language variants in TM matching, we aren’t just respecting linguistic diversity, we’re respecting and enabling linguistic talent. When we enhance the splitting of compound words in the Dutch language, enabling greater accuracy in bilingual terminology extraction, we aren’t just showing our understanding of Dutch grammar, we’re showing our respect for the priorities of Dutch linguists whose time we’re saving.

When interviewed after receiving her 10,000 metres gold medal today Sifan Hassan admitted that her strongest emotion on completing her gruelling week of racing was relief, and wondered aloud why she’d put herself through such an ordeal. We know the answer, of course. She did it because she wanted to test herself to the limit. She wanted to push the boundaries and be the best she could be. Congratulations, Sifan. We’re right there with you.