In a news flash early this morning, March 19, Carolina Kluft told the Swedish press that she will not be competing in the heptathlon in Beijing. Instead, she will concentrate on the long and triple jumps....why?, this blogger will attempt an explanation.
Carolina Kluft is the worlds' best women multi event athlete, period. She is not only a technical whiz, she is the consumate competitor.
This past February I had the pleasure of watching Carolina Kluft and Kelly Sotherton compete in an indoor triathlon in Birmingham at the Norwich Union GP-Birmingham.
Kluft and Sotherton competed over the long jump, hurdles and 400 meters. The competition was telling and the crowd of 12,000 sports fans were into it. When it came down to the 400 meters, Sotherton was out, hitting the 400 meters in just under 25 seconds! Around the back stretch, Carolina Kluft pulled out another gear and came up on Sotherton's back. Sotherton broke 53 seconds, 52.47, in fact running the 8th fastest UK time indoors at 400 meters-her personal best. Kluft broke 53 seconds as well, 52.98, for her personal best. Kluft won the competition, and afterwards, had very kind things to say about Sotherton. Having interviewed Carolina and observed her in all of her major mulits but the Euros, I believe her feelings for her competition in general, and for Kelly in particular are true. She respects her competition and enjoys their respect as well.
Kluft is an anomaly. In Sweden, she is a rock star. Her youngers sister, a police officer, uses another last name in order not to be stopped and to have a normal persons' life. In Sweden, they appreicate her athleticism, her competitive nature, and also the way she comports herself.
Last summer, the conditions in Osaka were very difficult. The heat, the humidity were atrocious, yet Kluft scored a personal best. In the end, she is so talented, that she has to look for competition. And that, in my mind, is her curse.
The cynic philosopher, Diogenes (412 BCE to 322 BCE), searched the streets of Athens, Greece at night, "Looking for an honest man." Diogenes considered direct dialogue much better than writing ( how would he think of blogging?).
Carolina Kluft has searched the stadias of the world, looking for honest competition. She has found it, and she has won all of her major competitions. At the end of the day, Klutf is a a unique athlete and she is looking for new challenges. The long jump and triple jump will bring her new competition, new challenges and perhaps a time to renew her spirit and body. The heptathlon is an event that challenges the heart and soul.
This past January, at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games, Carolina competed in the long jump. She was not happy with her jumping. But, during the interviews before her event, she let it be known that she was not certian about Beijing-just as she had mentioned after Osaka and her historic win there in the heptathlon.
A telling statement for Kluft was one of her comments to me at Osaka. " No one is unbeatable. On any given day, we can all make enough mistakes to loose an event." Carolina Kluft is searching for competiton, and perhaps the long jump and the triple jump will give her the new challenges she seeks.
The Beijing heptathlon will be the lesser for her departure.
The following is the complete news flash from EME News on Kluft withdrawing from
the Beijing Heptathlon competition:
EME NEWS (MAR 19, 2008) FLASH
Kluft confirms no Heptathlon in Beijing
STOCKHOLM (SWE, Mar 19): Olympic, world and European champion Carolina Kluft confirmed for Swedish media on Tuesday she will not compete in Heptathlon at Olympic Games in Beijing. She wants to concentrate on Long Jump and Triple Jump this summer. She still may compete end of May in Heptathlon at the traditional fixture in Gotzis, Austria.
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