Present Olympics Athletes >> Carolina Kluft
- Date of birth
heptathlon, pentathlon (indoor), long jump
- European Record
1 (heptathlon - 26/08/2007)
Olympic Games (1 medal - 1 gold)
- Heptathlon: 1st (2004)
World Championships (3 medals - 3 gold)
- Heptathlon: 1st (2003, 2005, 2007)
World Indoor Championships (2 medals - 1 gold, 1 bronze)
- Long jump: 3rd (2004)
- Pentathlon: 1st (2003)
European Championships (2 medals - 2 gold)
- Heptathlon: 1st (2002, 2006)
European Indoor Championships (3 medals - 2 gold, 1 bronze)
- Pentathlon: 1st (2005, 2007), 3rd (2002)
The hair, the medals and the future
Nearly every article about Swedish heptathlete Carolina Kluft contains the phrase 'golden girl', whether referring to her hair or her medals, which includes European, world and Olympic titles.
Her rise to the top began at 19 when a European gold led to a world title at just 20 in 2003, when she was five years younger than anyone finishing in the top eight in Paris.
She also broke the mythical 7000 point mark which left her the long distance favourite for the Athens Games in 2004.
The 7001 points tally in Paris was the best performance since Jackie Joyner-Kersee's 7044 pts at the 1992 Olympics. Kluft had to register four personal bests in the seven-discipline event to attain that height and become only the third woman to break the extremely difficult milestone.
She also showed maturity beyond her years when staring disaster in the face after two no jumps in the long jump event, coming good with her final effort.
Her leap of 6.68 metres left main rival and home favourite Eunice Barber sitting speechless on the ground as the 1999 world champion had been leading the long jump with 6.61m and looking to take the overall lead leaving Kluft with an almost impossible task.
Out in Athens in the absence of Barber, Kluft dominated the Olympic competition relegating runners up Lithuanian Austra Skujyte and Britain's Kelly Sotherton to deficits of 400 and 500 points respectively.
A devastating performance that left her rivals for dead and the Olympic gold medal around her neck.
Her hot streak continued in the post-Olympic year when she shook off a foot injury on the eve of the 2005 world championships and went on to defend her crown holding off Barber by 63 points in Helsinki.
Kluft continued to rack up the golds with a European title in 2006 and the European indoor title in 2007, where however she could only defeat Sotherton by 17 points, setting up a mouthwatering future rivalry.
She won an unprecedented third world title at Osaka in 2007 where she proved doubters wrong over her motivation by scoring a European record and personal best of 7,032 points ahead of Ukrainian Lyudmila Blonska with 6,832 while Sotherton again settled for third.
She will be favourite to win the gold in Beijing, but any slip in China will be punished as her rivals Sotherton and world indoor champion Blonska, though five years her senior, are closing the gap.
Her strongest event is the high jump where she slightly improved her personal best from 1.94m set in Paris 2003 to 1.95m in Osaka.
Needless to say she won the high jump but Blonska beat her in her favourite event the long jump. She did however improve on her weak points of javelin and 800m, where she came fifth.
Her mother was one of Sweden's leading long jumpers in the 1970s and her father was a professional footballer who spent much of his career in the Swedish first division
She claims to be in the sport for fun, that her parents never pushed her, and that she'll quit when the smile fades.
Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.