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.

Klüft in battle for Euros qualification

“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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Sweden’s Bahta denies Hassan to claim gold

Sweden's Meraf Bahta held off a late challenge from hot favourite Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands to win the 5,000m final at the European Athletic Championships in Zurich on Saturday.

Sweden's Bahta denies Hassan to claim gold
Photo: TT

The promise of Dutch delight turned to despair – and ultimately silver and bronze consolation – in the dramatic closing stages of the women's 5,000m final on the penultimate day of the European Athletics Championships in Zurich.

"With 100m to go I knew that nobody could beat me," said Bahta.

"I was never afraid to lose the duel with Hassan. This is my first time running for Sweden. It is great for me to hear the anthem for the first time."

Less than 24 hours after winning the 1500m final (on a night when Dafne Schippers completed a 100m sprint double), Sifan Hassan was closing on what would have been a famous double of her own and a record-equalling fourth for the Netherlands as she surged from seventh at the bell to the shoulder of Sweden's Meraf Bahta coming into the home straight.

A similar tactic had won the 21-year-old Ethiopian-born woman her metric mile crown in convincing fashion but this time she came up against an unyielding rival in Bahta.

The Eritrean refugee had pushed the pace from two laps out and dug deep to hold on for victory in 15min 31.39sec.

Hassan had to be content with silver, finishing 0.40sec, with her Dutch team-mate Susan Kuijken coming through for bronze and Jo Pavey, the 40-year-old 10,000m winner from Great Britain, down in sevent

The battle for first place in the medal table edged marginally in favour of France after wins for Renaud Lavillenie in the men's pole vault and Christelle Daunay in the women's marathon.

They have seven golds now, the same tally as Britain, but with 18 medals in all, three more than their rivals.

Lavillenie has been untouchable in 2014 and the Olympic champion extended his winning streak to a 20th competition with just two vaults.

After entering at 5.65m and clearing that at the first attempt, the Frenchman just needed a second time success at 5.90 to claim the gold.

He did, however, attempt to achieve his first 6m-plus vault of the outdoor season but registered three failures at  6.01m – 15cm shy of the world record he set indoors in Donetsk in February.

Daunay is not quite a member of the Fortysomething club – she turns 40 in December – but the French marathon runner maintained the gold standard for the older guard in Zurich, pulling clear after halfway to win the 26.2 mile event in 2 hr 25min 14sec – 13 seconds ahead of the 38-year-old Italian Valeria Straneo.

Farther down the field, there was a race within the race to become the first finisher between 28-year-old triplets from Estonia. It was won by Liina Luik, 29th in 2:41:18. Leila Luik was 43rd and Lily Luik 47th.

The seventh British gold came in the women's 400m hurdles. Favourite Eilidh Child held on for victory in 54.48sec, 0.08sec ahead of the fast-finishing Ukrainian Anna Titimets.

However, Child's fellow Scottish Commonwealth Games silver medallist Lynsey Sharp was unable to hang on after going our hard and fast in a bold defence of her 800m title.

She was caught and passed 80m from the line by Maryna Arzamasova, the Belarus athlete prevailing in 1 min 58.15sec. The consolation for Sharp was not just the silver but also a Scottish record: 1:58.80.

In the women's discus Croatia's Sandra Perkovic, the reigning world and Olympic champion, claimed gold with a 71.08m world lead and national record in the fifth round.

The men's hammer was a dramatic affair, Olympic champion Krisztian Parrs requiring a world leading throw of 82.69m in the final round to retain his title.

In the women's triple jump Ukraine's Olha Saladukha completed a hat-trick of titles, a second round effort of 14.73m edging out Russian Yekaterina Koneva by just 4cm.