Queen Carolina vows to continue

Queen Carolina vows to continue
Photo: SVT/Niklas Ahlgren
Rejoicing in an unprecedented third world heptathlon crown and a long-awaited new personal record, Carolina Klüft says she is not yet ready to abdicate as queen of athletes.

“To break my personal record and to win. It was my best motivation source,” the 24-year-old Swedish golden girl said after comfortably winning the grueling seven-sport spectacle at the World Athletics Championships here on Sunday.

“And right now I feel kind of empty,” she said. “But right now I’m just happy and I’m not thinking about the future.”

Klüft, also the Olympic champion who has been unbeaten for five years, earlier said she might stop competing in the heptathlon after the Beijing Olympics next year, or perhaps here, and switch to single-sport events.

“How long I’ll do this. I have no idea. As long as have the motivation, I will continue with the heptathlon,” she said.

“I’ll definitely have a week off now and I’ll continue to do this season good. And then I’ll try to do my plans for Beijing.”

With her rivals catching up, Klüft had found it hard to go anywhere close to her previous personal best of 7,001 which she set in winning her first title in 2003.

But her comfortable 7,032-6,832 points victory over world indoor champion Lyudmila Blonska of Ukraine here was enough to dispel speculation about an imminent end to her reign.

Her total also broke the 18-year-old European record of 7,007 held by Russian Larisa Nikitina and was the world’s best this year.

It still paled before the world record of 7,291 set by the American Jackie Joyner Kersee at the 1988 Olympics, a mark Kluft has vowed not to challenge.

The competition has proven tough this season for the well-balanced blonde, 1m78 (5ft10) and 65kg (143 lbs), who also has 2002 and 2006 European titles.

The 29-year-old Blonska came within 55 points of ending Klüft’s winning streak in Gotzis last May where the Swede collected 6,681 points and the top 15 all scored more than 6,000.

In March, she beat Britain’s Kelly Sotherton by a slim 4,944-4927 in the five-sport pentathlon at the European indoor championships.

Sotherton, 30, finished third here with her season’s best of 6,510 points.

“I was alone but it was good,” said Klüft, popular among her rivals and track and field fans for her enthusiasm and friendliness.

“It was two tough days,” she said. “I would like to thank my competitors for pushing me so hard, and myself for pushing myself hard.”

She improved her personal best in the 100m hurdles to 13.15sec, topped the field with a personal record of 1.95m in the high jump and had a solid shot put on the first day.

On the second day, Klüft was outdone by Blonska in her favourite long jump but did better than expected in the javelin, her weak point. She posted the fifth best time in the 800m.

“Carolina’s performance and results have inspired us to follow her and do as well,” Blonska said.

Sotherton added: “I didn’t think 7,000 (points) would be possiblle. Now, I’m proud to be in the 7,000 event.”

“It shows how tough it will be in the Olympics next year.”