Carolina Evelyn Klüft (in Swedish ) (born February 2, 1983) is a Swedish athlete competing in triple jump, long jump and formerly in heptathlon and pentathlon. She won the Olympic heptathlon title in 2004. She is also the reigning three-time World and double European heptathlon champion and is regarded as one of the best female athletes in the world.
Kluft first rose to prominence by winning the heptathlon at the 2002 European Championships and setting a new world junior record of 6,452 points. She then won the 2003 World Championships becoming the third athlete ever to score over 7,000 points. She is now the European record holder for heptathlon with a personal best of 7,032 points. This score ranks her second on the all-time heptathlon points score list, only behind Jackie Joyner-Kersee who set the world record of 7,291 points.
Kluft has been unbeaten in 22 heptathlon and pentathlon competitions since March 2002, winning nine consecutive gold medals in major championships.
She is the only athlete ever to win three world titles in heptathlon.
Klüft comes from a family with sporting tradition: her father, Johnny, played professional soccer in the Swedish Allsvenskan and her mother was an international long jumper. She started out playing soccer herself but took up athletics at the age of 12. She has described being subjected to bullying at school after moving to Växjö and subsequently using her athletic prowess to gain respect. Klüft took up the heptathlon in 2000 after Swedish coach Agne Bergvall suggested she had a future in it. Bergvall has been her main coach ever since.
Kluft is 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in) tall and weighs 65 kg (140 lb / 10.2 stone). Her physique is well-suited to multi-events: she is tall and lean for the running and jumping events but also powerful enough to perform well in the shot put and javelin. She has shown more natural ability in the jumping events, sprinting and hurdles, and has steadily improved in the throwing events and 800 m and has now been described as having no weaknesses across the seven events. This is demonstrated by her finishing in the top six in all disciplines of the 2007 World Championship heptathlon.
She is also normally a member of the Swedish 4 x 100 m relay team at international competitions, and was part of the team that set the national record.
She is particularly friendly with British rival Kelly Sotherton, and the two can often be seen chatting during competitions. Klüft regularly leads the other heptathletes on a lap of honour after a major competition. She is often referred to by the nickname 'Carro' by people who know her.
When not training or competing, Klüft is a student at the University of Växjö, studying Peace and Development. She has visited areas of Sri Lanka hit by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake to make a film for Swedish TV and also sponsors children in Africa.
She is part of Reebok's "I am what I am" advertising campaign along with several other sports stars. She has been the focus of poster photography for Reebok, taken by celebrity photographer Jason Bell.
Carolina has been nominated for four consecutive Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year awards from 2005-2008.
She has a mascot, a small stuffed toy representing Eeyore, that she takes everywhere. Klüft claims that this is not for luck, but to remind her of her philosophy that sport is for fun.
She is one of very few athletes to at some time hold all five available international titles, Olympic, World Outdoor, Regional (Europe in her case) Outdoor, World Indoor and Regional Indoor. And at the age of 22 she was the youngest athlete ever to hold all five.
She excelled even more by winning her first major outdoor title, the heptathlon at the 2003 World Championships in Paris with a score of 7,001 points, ahead of Eunice Barber, who had 6,755 points. Klüft thus became the third woman ever to break the 7,000 point barrier in the heptathlon. She set six personal bests in the seven disciplines including a 1.94 m high jump and an exceptional 200 m of 22.98 s. At one stage she was on the brink of elimination from the competition after overstepping on the first two of her three long jump attempts but ended up recording the best jump of the competition with 6.68 m. She was later awarded Waterford Crystal European Athlete of the Year Trophy 2003. That same year, Klüft also received the Svenska Dagbladet Gold Medal.
She went on to win the heptathlon gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens with a score of 6,952 points. She took the lead after the high jump and extended her lead after every event from then on. With Eunice Barber absent through injury, Klüft won by an Olympic record margin of 517 points, ahead of Austra Skujyte. She also entered the long jump, qualifying for the final but finishing 11th.
She began 2005 by winning the pentathlon at the European Indoor Championships with a new PB of 4948 points. A third consecutive victory at Götzis and another in Jyväskylä set Klüft up for the defence of her heptathlon world title.
The day before the 2005 World Championships in Athletics in Helsinki, Klüft injured her foot. The injury affected her performance, particularly in the high jump which was a clearance of only 1.82 m. Klüft fell well behind Eunice Barber but made a comeback with a personal best shot put of 15.02 m and then took the lead after the 200 m. She then stretched her lead with a long jump effort of 6.87 m, and held on to an advantage of only 18 points after the javelin. She overtook Barber at the end of the 800 m to retain the title. Klüft totaled 6,887 points, finishing ahead of Barber who took the silver medal with 6,824 points.
She chose not to compete at the 2006 World Indoor Championships in order to prepare for the European Championships, to be staged on home soil in Sweden. Klüft won again in Götzis and in Arles but without showing good form.
She managed to defend her title at the 2006 European Athletics Championships with a score of 6,740 points, despite having been hampered by injuries throughout her preparation. She performed well below her best but still won comfortably following the withdrawal of her rival Barber after the high jump. Klüft went on to compete in the individual long jump but again struggled for form, finishing 6th.
Her victory in the 2007 European Indoor Championships in Birmingham was by a margin of only 17 points over home favourite Kelly Sotherton. Klüft again narrowly missed the world pentathlon record, with a score of 4944 points. Still recovering from her fitness problems of the previous year, she did only one heptathlon before the World Championships, a fifth victory in Götzis. She showed signs of improvement at the Swedish Championships.
At the World Championships in Osaka, Klüft had the opportunity to become the only woman to win three world titles in the heptathlon. However, she faced strong competition from Lyudmila Blonska of Ukraine, who had, earlier in the year, set the world best heptathlon score of 2007.
Klüft started the first day by equalling her Personal Best of 13.15 in the 100 m Hurdles and a new Personal Best of 1.95 m in the High Jump. Solid performances of 14.81 in the shot put and 23.38 in the 200 m followed, for Klüft to hold the lead from Blonska after day one, with 4162 points.
On the second day, Klüft recorded a long jump of 6.85 m, threw 47.98 m in the javelin and ran 2:12.56 in the 800 metres to claim her third World Championship gold. She posted a personal best points score of 7,032, putting her second on the all time list, and beating Larisa Turchinskaya's 18 year old European record.
Klüft announced on March 19 2008 that she will not contest any heptathlons in 2008, including defending her title at the Olympics, stating that she was no longer motivated to train for and compete in heptathlons. Klüft has decided to concentrate upon long jump and also train seriously for triple jump. Although Klüft is inexperienced in triple jump, she has worked with Yannick Tregaro (coach of Olympic champion Christian Olsson), who has predicted that she may jump over 14.50 m.
She entered both the long jump and triple jump at the 2008 Olympics. Her best effort of 13.90m did not qualify her for the triple jump final. She ended ninth in the long jump with a result of 6,49.
|4 x 100 metres||43.61 s (NR)|
|4 x 400 metres||3:31.28 min|
|60 metres||7.40 s|
|60 metres hurdles||8.19 s|
|100 metres||11.48 s|
|100 metres hurdles||13.15 s|
|200 metres||24.12 s||22.98 s|
|400 metres||52.98 s||53.17 s|
|800 metres||2:13:04 min||2:08.89 min|
|Heptathlon||7,032 p (European record)|
|High jump||1.93 m||1.95 m|
|Javelin throw||50.96 m|
|Long jump||6.92 m (NR)||6.97 m|
|Pentathlon||4,948 p (NR)|
|Shot put||14.48 m||15.05 m|
|Triple jump||14.29 m (NR)|