Confidence is the key for Klosterhalfen as Berlin beckons

Konstanze Klosterhalfen in Bydgoszcz
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Konstanze Klosterhalfen will begin as one of the gold medal favourites for the 1500m title at the European Athletics Championships in Berlin next August

It is easy to forget that Konstanze Klosterhalfen is still only 20 such has been the impression she has already made in the senior ranks this summer.

Disappointed at not progressing from the semifinals of the 1500m at the IAAF World Championships in London lat month, the German star has since beaten a world champion in Birmingham before taking apart a high-class field on home soil in Berlin just a week ago. 

“It has been a very good year,” she said, following her personal best of 3:58.92. “It feels great.”

For the moment though, let’s roll the clock forward to next summer and the most important women’s 1500m race of 2018 which will take place in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium with its glorious blue track and raucous crowd.

The city is hosting the track and field programme of the inaugural multi-sports European Championships in conjunction with Glasgow. For the German supporters, they have a runner they have already taken to their hearts. 

Such was the noise last Sunday as Klosterhalfen broke away to smash her personal best as she won in 3:58.92, the volume will be pumped up even more in Berlin next summer should she be in contention for the title. 

“Being in Berlin, I am very much looking forward to the crowds,” says the Bonn-born athlete. “I will hope to have lots of family and friends there. I'm naturally excited about it, it's in my country so I hope the audience will be great.

"The atmosphere in London was great with the home crowd supporting the British athletes so I hope the our fans will get behind the German team in the same way.

"Back in 2009 I was twelve and I watching the world championships on TV. I remember Usain Bolt and Robert Harting winning and thinking to myself 'this is a cool championships' so I hope we can have something like that again." 

From looking forward to next summer to looking back since the start of the year, it is unlikely that Klosterhalfen will ever forget the events of 2017, coming as they did on the back of retaining her U20 title at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Chia, Italy, last December. 

First port of call on the senior stage - only a fortnight after she had turned 20 - was the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade where she won the silver in 4:04.45 behind Great Britain’s Laura Muir, who broke the championship record in 4:02.39. 

Gold was on the horizon as she defied her years again in Bydgoszcz in July by winning the 1500m at the European Athletics U23 Championships in a year where she achieved another remarkable landmark.She is the youngest athlete in history to run the 800m in under 2:00 (1:59.65 in June), the 1500m in under 4:00 (3:58.92) and the 5000m in under 15:00 (14:51.38 in May). 

At the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Birmingham, her first major outing following her London frustration, she also broke Irina Mikitenko’s long-standing German 3000m record with 8:29.89.

Great results, great statistics but the most important lesson is the belief that Klosterhalfen has in herself after stepping up from the U20 ranks.

“I was a bit nervous because of the big names and the big titles the athletes have,” she reflected. “But then when I stand on the start line, I am focused on me. Everyone is stronger and in the end, everyone has a kick. I have experienced a lot this year and I feel more confident, or I hope so.”

The stats have not stopped following her. She became the first German since reunification to break the four minute-barrier for the 1500m when she ran 3:59.30 in Rome in June, a time which she has since lowered. 

Now based in the Cologne district of Junkersdorf to be near where she studies at the German Sports University, Klosterhalfen seemed destined to be an outstanding runner from an early age; and athletics’ gain is tennis, gymnastics and handball’s loss as she also competed at those when she was growing up. 

Klosterhalfen is now taking a well-deserved break after a long and successful season before she resumes training ahead of what promises to be another memorable winter season.

Her initial ambition is to challenge for her third successive gold medal at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in the Slovakian town of Samorin in 10 December, where she is eligible for the U23 race over 6km.

But who knows? It's possible she might decide to skip competing in that category and test herself against the seniors. 

After all, she has already made quite a name for herself doing that on the track.

 

  • The Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships will be part of the first multisport European Championships along with co-hosts Glasgow.
  • It will be a must-watch, must-attend experience that elevates the status of European Champions, uniting existing European Championships to celebrate the highest honour in European sport and celebrating the defining moments that create Champions.
  • It is the continent’s ultimate multisport event, an 11-day celebration of European sport staged every 4 years.
  • Seven of Europe’s leading sports (athletics, aquatics, rowing, golf, cycling, gymnastics, triathlon) will be brought together for the first edition.
  • The European Athletics Championships in Berlin will be staged 7-12 August. The six other sports will be staged in Glasgow through 2-12 August.
  • 4,500 athletes and 52 nations will compete across the seven sports.
  • Potential TV audience of over 1 billion with millions more across multiple digital platforms.
  • Over half a million spectators expected.