Kluft - simply unstoppable
October 27, 2004
IT'S almost becoming her
trademark motto. "I just want to have
fun," she says. Certainly, as long as she continues to win so
easily, Carolina Kluft's smile is unlikely to disappear.
Kluft first attracted attention from the global athletics media when she
won the world junior title in Santiago, Chile, in 2000. She retained the
title in Jamaica in 2002 and then uniquely became European champion in
Munich later that year and world champion in Paris in 2003 while still
holding the junior crown.
The second oldest of
four daughters, her father, Johnny, played first division football for
Osters IF and her mother was a 6.09m long jumper.
Such is her talent,
there have been reports that when trying the triple jump and pole vault in
training she has shown the potential to break the world records in those
events. She also enjoys wrestling.
She is a remarkable
character outside sport too. Despite keeping her private life as secret as
possible, it has emerged she sponsors a baby in Kenya and after the World
Championships last year she flew out to Kenya to see the child as opposed
to enjoying the post-championship interviews and awards ceremonies that
could easily have filled her diary every day from August until Christmas.
don't feel like a star," she says. "Just
a little girl in the big world. I've simply succeeded in something I think
She means it too. Most
top Swedish athletes, such as triple jumper Christian Olsson and high
jumper Kajsa Bergqvist, have moved to Monaco to avoid Swedish taxes, but
Kluft has no such ambition. She was raised in Vxj, a small town in
southern Sweden and has no plans to move. "I enjoy travelling but I
want to stay in Sweden. I love Sweden because my family and friends are
around me and they mean more to me than anything."
There's also Patrik
Kristiansson, the pole vault international who Kluft is engaged to. He has
a good chance of winning a medal when the vault starts in Athens on
Wednesday this week.
Even her rivals are fans
of hers. Denise Lewis said: "Carolina is a
breath of fresh air. She's fantastic, she's groundbreaking, she's given us
all something to aim for."
While her coach, Agnes
Bergvall, says: "Carolina is unique. She can be
laughing and joking with the crowd one moment but the next she can be 100
per cent concentration."
Face-pulling in front of
cameras is something Kluft did slightly less of in Athens. There are also
signs she is becoming slightly tired with the non-stop media attention.
It would be a shame if
this intense spotlight turns her away from the sport. But she almost
threatened as much at a post-medal ceremony press conference that was
packed with Swedish journalists wearing bright yellow vests.
Olympics is just a small part of my life," she said. "I
have lots of other goals, not just in sport. But I also love athletics and
will carry on as long as I have my private life."