Kluft, Carolina Evelyn

Kluft, Carolina Evelyn
▪ 2008

born Feb. 2, 1983, Sandhult, Swed.

 Swedish track and field athlete Carolina Klüft in 2007 won a record third consecutive International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) world championships title in the heptathlon, with a score of 7,032 points, the second highest in history. Klüft's tally, a 31-point improvement on her previous personal best, was the highest in 18 years and vaulted the 24-year-old Swede past Larisa Nikitina of the former Soviet Union on the all-time list. Only world-record holder Jackie Joyner-Kersee of the U.S. had scored higher.

      Klüft's father, Johnny Klüft, was a Swedish first division association football (soccer) player, and her mother, Ingalill Ahlm Klüft, was a long jumper. The second of four daughters, Klüft, known to her fans as “Carro,” followed in her family's athletic footsteps. In 1995, at age 12, she placed second in her first championships multievent, a youth track and field triathlon, and she did not lose another multievent until May 1999.

      She won world junior heptathlon titles in 2000 and 2002 and in the second of these victories broke a world junior record that had stood since the year she was born. When Klüft won Olympic gold in 2004, her 517-point margin of victory over Lithuanian silver medalist Austra Skujyte was greater than Skujyte's margin over the 25th-place competitor. In 2005 Klüft, then 22, became the youngest athlete ever to have won the “grand slam” of the five track and field championship titles available to Europeans: the Olympics plus both the indoor and the outdoor IAAF world championships and European championships. She was troubled by a hamstring injury in 2006 yet still managed to repeat as gold medalist at the European outdoor championships, held in Göteborg, Swed. By the end of 2007, Klüft had contested a career-total 45 multievents (indoors and outdoors) and had lost only 6, with her last loss coming in 2002 in an indoor European Cup pentathlon. In the 293 component events of these 45 competitions, she had failed to finish just one: in 2000 at the Swedish junior championships, when she abandoned the heptathlon-concluding 800-m run but nonetheless finished with enough points to secure an age-18 national title.

      Klüft also was an accomplished long jumper, with a personal best of 6.97 m (22 ft 101/2 in) set in 2004, the same year she won the bronze medal in that event at the world indoor championships. Although Joyner-Kersee's heptathlon world record, set in 1988, loomed just 259 points from her grasp at the end of 2007, Klüft teased that she might turn her attention full-time to the long jump in future seasons.

Sieg Lindstrom

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Universalium. 2010.

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