Klüft in battle for Euros qualification

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Klüft in battle for Euros qualification

With just days remaining before deadline for qualification for the 2010 European Championships, Swedish athlete and Olympic heptathlon gold medallist Carolina Klüft is battling to achieve a long jump distance to ensure participation.


"I am used to performing under pressure. I can not compete close to my personal best but it is just a question of biting the bullet," said Klüft ahead of Thursday's meet in Karlstad in southern Sweden, according to news agency TT.

Klüft has been focusing on the long jump since discarding the heptathlon after winning gold at the World Championships in Osaka in 2007.

After claiming a haul of five major championships golds by the age of 22, a sporting record, she went on to dominate the heptathlon and became perhaps the most well known Swedish athlete of the decade.

When the then 25-year-old Klüft announced in March 2008 that her enjoyment of the event had waned, and that she planned to focus on the long and triple jump, the decision was met with consternation in some quarters of Sweden which had grown used to banking on at least one gold medal at the major championships.

Despite setting a Swedish record in the triple jump in 2008, Klüft has battled dips in form and injury since turning her hand to the individual events.

The 27-year-old now faces the very real prospect of missing out on the European Championships if she does not manage to jump further than 6.55 metres in Karlstad. Klüft's best jump of 2010 is 6.42 metres.

Despite the tough years behind her, Klüft regularly insists that she does not regret her decision to give up the heptathlon and expressed confidence that she will achieve the qualification distance.

"This season is thought to be something of an intermediate season...I am mentally stronger, it can also be positive to be away for a while. My old tired heptathlon body has had time to heal and a new long jumper's body has started to take shape," she said, adding that there is a chance that she could make the Euros in Barcelona even if 6.55 proves out of her reach.


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