Carolina Kluft speaks, on the Long Jump, by Larry Eder

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In an interview prior to the Reebok Grand Prix in New York, Carolina Kluft told RBR that she was using a shortened run up for the long jump, as she is still recovering from a stress fracture. " I am training well, but this is still quite early in the season. I am using a shortened run up as I am short on training and I want to be careful with my leg. I really wanted to compete in New York and visit Reebok (in Boston), so, while I am back at training, I am still a bit short of where I would like to be."


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The best heptathelete of her generation, Kluft had wins in 2003 Paris, 2005 Helsinki and 2007 Osaka, as well as 2004 Athens-she made it look easy. The truth was very far from that. For Kluft, the challenges of being the best women's multi-event athlete in the world were many. And the fun she professed in so many press conferences was waning-Kluft needed a break.

"After Helsinki, and my injuries in training there, I lost the fun in training for the heptathlon, and I never gained it back. It just became too hard, too much of a chore. Most of all, the heptathlon was no longer a challenge. I needed a new challenge, so I focused on the long jump." noted Kluft.


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Will we see Carolina Kluft in the heptathlon again? Never, say never, but this writer believes that Kluft is serious about needing a break. As a serious track geek, I hope that she gets the "fun" back and enthralls her fans with another global championship at the heptathlon. But, for the present, Kluft is focused on the long jump, for a variety of reasons.


In past interviews, Carolina Kluft made it quite clear that she likes challenges, and her positive attitude is one of her greatest strengths, besides her obvious technical knowledge of the events, plus her ability to focus, train long hours and train well. " It takes a longer time for big athlete like me to get into shape. I am focused on the World Championships this year."

When asked what captured her interest in the long jump, Kluft noted, (smiling): "The long jump is fast, it is over quickly. You must take all of your energy and perform quickly, and that interests me! It is not like the heptathlon."

It seems, at this time in Klufts' life, that while she trains twice a day, " it is not the intensity or duration of the heptathlon training." It is obvious that Carolina Kluft worked hard for those heptathlon medals, and the training, the focus, the obsession needed to make it at the world champion level in a multi event took a lot out of her.

"In Sweden, athletics is the number one sport. We even beat soccer. Remember, we are a small country! I am asked for autographs and such many times. I think that this may be the only time I meet this child, so I take a picture, it is good for her, and good for me, " noted Kluft.

Kluft added, " But, I am learning. Now, if I am out with friends, I sometimes tell people, please, no pictures, I am just with my friends. For the most part, they understand. But, my private time is important to me. That is why I live in the country, with few neighbors. I need my privacy to relax and reboot."

When asked about her level of fitness, Carolina was clear and precise;" I am doing well now, but I need to train hard this summer to be ready for the World Championships in August in Berlin. I wanted to compete in New York, then I have a meeting on June 9, then I go home to train."

I would not put the pressure on Carolina Kluft of winning the long jump tomorrow. With Grace Upshaw, the top American, out of the competiton, it will probably be Tania Madison who gives Carolina the challenge that she thrives on.

We will see her level of fitness tomorrow in the long jump at the Reebok Grand Prix New York! If you are in the NY Metro area, make the meet! It will be amazing. If not, do not miss it on TV, 4.30 to 6 pm EST.


Photos by PhotoRun.net.

For more on the meet, please check www.reebokgrandprix.com

Special thanks to Todd Klein and Carolina Kluft, for her patience after many interviews during the day. She handles herself as the professional athlete that she is. This is my fourth interview with Carolina over the past five years.

For more on the sport, please click http://www.runningnetwork.com

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