Swedish sensation Carolina Klüft has made the decision to not defend her Olympic heptathlon title in Beijing, stating that she was no longer motivated to train for and compete in heptathlons. Kluft will instead compete in the long and triple jumps.
Explaining her decision to local Swedish newspaper the Klüft said: “I’ve done the Heptathlon for a number of years. I really want to try something new. I want to focus on one or two other events. I want to feel fit in my body and not be exhausted week in and week out.”
Little known is known about Klüft in the U.S., but she is widely considered by many experts to be one of the world’s greatest all-around female athletes. The heptathlon event is a grueling two day event comprised of the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, and 200-meters on the first day. The long jump, javelin, and 800-meters are held the second day.
The 25-year-old, has won every major multi-events title since winning the world championship gold medal in 2003. Overall she has won three world championship golds and gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
The Klüft is the European record holder in the heptathlon with a personal best of 7,032 points. This score ranks second behind former American champion Jackie Joyner Kersee.
The absence of Carolina opens the door for a showdown in Beijing to win the heptathlon gold. The top candidates to emerge in Klüft absence are Britain’s Kelly Sotherton and Jessica Ennis. They are both genuine gold-medal contenders in their own right.
Sotherton took the bronze medal behind Klüft in Athens in 2004 and again at last year's world championships in Osaka. Ennis improved on her personal record by 300 points in finishing fourth at the ‘07 world outdoor championships. This shake up increases the chances that the heptathlon will be a hotly contested competition in Beijing.
By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist