Klüft gets to bow out at Ullevi | 28.08.2012
|Swedish multi-events legend Carolina Kluft.
The former Olympic, world and European champion at the heptathlon ran the unusual distance for her of 400m hurdles. In order to qualify for the Finnkampen which takes place this coming weekend in Nya Ullevi in Gothenburg Klüft had to finish in the top three.
Although she set a personal best for the distance of 61.14 she finished in fourth place. That meant she would not be able to make her farewells to the Swedish public at the stadium that hosted the 2006 European Athletics Championships where she won one of her nine major gold medals.
Klüft had announced a week ago that Finnkampen would be her goodbye to the sport she has graced for so long ever since she bounded into the public consciousness 12 years ago when she won world junior heptathlon gold.
Suddenly it looked as though fourth place in her national championships was to be the sudden unexpected end. There was a suggestion she might jump the queue and pull rank in order to get into the match, but as team captain Stefan Olsson said: "That was never on the cards. I don't think Carro will want a place just for nostalgic reasons."
"It's a pain," commented Klüft, "It would have been great to have finished it all at Ullevi. I'll go as reserve, but I won't under any circumstances go instead of anyone else," she made clear.
But when the squad was announced for the traditional battle against the Finns on Monday, there was a surprise. The 29-year-old had made it into the team after all, but in the 4x400m.
"She was really happy when she got the news," said Olsson. Her coach, Oscar Gidewall, said when he heard the news that he reckoned it would be the case that she would figure in the long relay.
The fastest relay leg of Klüft's career came in 2004 in Stockholm when she ran 50.88. Her fastest individual 400m stands at 53.17 though she ran faster indoors (52.98).
Lest we forget just how phenomenal this woman was she won Athens heptathlon gold by a margin of 517 points and was undisputed queen of her event with a win-streak of 19 victories only broken by her decision to move to the long jump in 2008. Including all the 17 major international championships she took part in she finished on top in 15 with an average winning margin of 333points!