Klüft and Kallur take gold in Birmingham

Swedes Carolina Klüft and Susanna Kallur picked up two out of the four gold medals decided on the opening day of the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Birmingham on Friday.

Klüft, the reigning Olympic, world and European heptathlon champion outdoors, was pushed all the way by Great Britain’s Kelly Sotherton but prevailed at the indoor pentathlon speciality with 4944 points.

“Definitely it was a very tough competition. Maybe my toughest ever,” said Klüft, the individual winner of two of the five disciplines on Friday and who is now undefeated in multi-event competitions for five years.

Her tally was just four points shy of the championship record she set in Madrid two years ago when she won the pentathlon gold.

Sotherton finished second to Klüft for the second successive European Athletics Indoor Championships with 4927 points while the Netherlands’ Karin Ruckstuhl was a distant third with 4801 points.

Klüft and Sotherton could repeat their enthralling battle at the World Championships in Osaka, Japan, this summer.

Kallur, another long distance favourite for a gold medal in Osaka, preceded her compatriot to the top of the podium when she defended her women’s 60m hurdles crown in 7.87 secs.

Despite a poor start, her time was only three-hundredths slower than a silky smooth semi-final victory in 7.84, which was the best time in the world this year.

In the final Kallur was at the back of the eight-woman field for the first 10 metres but she held her composure, moving into the lead off the third hurdle.

“After that bad start, it was really good that I was able to get back up,” said a relieved and delighted Kallur, who completes an unbeaten indoor season.

Russia’s Aleksandra Antonova, the early leader, finished second in 7.94 while Germany’s Kirsten Bolm got her second successive bronze medal with 7.97.