When Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal won bronze over 10,000m at last year’s European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam, she was the first Norwegian woman to take an international outdoor medal in a long distance event for a decade.
But there was more to just being on the podium.
After injury, she was back proving what a talent she is and now Grovdal has set her sights on an even greater mark – breaking the national records set by her country’s legendary stars.
It is almost 39 years since Grete Waitz ran the Norwegian 1500m record of 4:00.55 and almost 31 years since Ingrid Kristiansen’s world record of 14:37.33 for the 5000m.
Even though it will take another dramatic step up in improvement, those times are the targets which Grovdal will take with her into the forthcoming outdoor world championship season.
“I think it's time to take it, that's for sure,” said Grovdal, speaking to nrk.no. “The two times are up there, and there is motivation for me to take them.”
Grovdal is a brilliantly versatile athlete, as she proved last July in the Dutch capital when she won her first major senior international medal over the 25 laps, to bridge the gap with fellow countrywoman Susanne Wigene, the 10,000m silver medallist in Gothenburg in 2006.
Twice a European junior steeplechase gold medallist (in 2007 and 2009), along with also winning the 5000m at the second of those championships, Grodval runs the half-marathon and after Amsterdam, she then impressed at the Olympics in Rio by finishing ninth in the 10,000m and seventh in the 5000m.
The late Waitz, the 1983 Olympic marathon champion, set the 1500m time in Prague on 3 September 1978, while Kristiansen ran her amazing 5000m in Stockholm on 5 August 1986.
Grovdal still has a great deal of ground to make up, but the past few years show just how much she is progressing.
Her 1500m personal best has come down to the 4:09.03 she ran in May last summer, having been 4:14.46 in 2013, while her quickest 5000m of 14:57.53 was run in Rio, breaking the 14:57.77 from Rome in June, when significantly she had smashed her way through the 15-minute barrier. Grovdal had finished 2014 with a best of 15:47.63, and 2015 with 15:15.18.
She also ran a personal best in the 10,000m final in Rio with 31:14.07, all important landmark moments along the way.
After battling back from injuries, Grovdal is now looking only ahead and said: “I have figured out what your body can tolerate and what works to come up to the level I should be at. I've had my share of injuries, but this run-up has been very good.”