Klüft leads heptathlon with 800m to go

Olympic heptathlon champion Carolina Klüft of Sweden saw French arch-rival Eunice Barber cut her lead back to just 18 points with just the 800m to run in the multi-discipline event at the world championships in Helsinki on Sunday.

In the opening event of the day, the long jump, Kluft and Barber both recorded season’s bests of 6.87 and 6.75m respectively.

Klüft ‘s best came on her first attempt in an all-or-nothing jump that saw her narrowly miss being red-flagged.

The result saw the 22-year-old Swede, who went into the competition nursing an injured ankle, squash Barber’s two-point overnight lead after the 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put and 200m and regain top spot by 38 points.

But Barber, the 1999 world champion, cut back that deficit to just 18 points after the javelin, in which she threw 48.24m to Kluft’s 47.20m, albeit a season’s best for the Swede.

In the overall standings before the 800m later Sunday, Kluft was top on 5906, followed by Barber on 5888 and Margaret Simpson of Ghana in third on 5511.

The Ghanaian recorded a personal best of 56.36m in the javelin to overtake Briton Kelly Sotherton, who underperformed in both the long jump and javelin.

Sotherton, the Olympic bronze medallist, was in fact left in fifth place overall after Lithuania’s Austra Skujyte jumped into fourth with a season’s best 48.82m in the javelin, and goes into the 800m on 5502 points.

Karin Ruckstuhl of the Netherlands lies just 15 points behind Sotherton on 5315 points.