02 March 2007
Kluft takes gold in the pentathlon - Sotherton wins first medal for Britain
British pair Kelly Sotherton and Jessica Ennis both led at different points of the women’s pentathlon at the European Indoor Athletics Championships, but Olympic heptathlon champion Carolina Kluft was top of the pile when it mattered most to claim gold after a thrilling day’s competition.
Kluft finished on 4944 points, just 17 ahead of Sotherton, with Karin Ruckstuhl of the Netherlands winning the bronze. Ennis finished in sixth with 4716 points – a new personal best.
Sotherton had to finish over a second clear of Kluft in the final event of the day, the 800m, to claim the gold but Kluft was able to keep the gap between them down to just 0.5secs.
“What a great competition to win,” said Kluft. “I feel very happy to come out on top of this event. It was very hard right from the start and Kelly pushed all the time on every event. It is good for the event to have so many athletes so close together. On the last lap, I just had to hang on and I'm glad I did.”
Earlier in the day it was defending champion Kluft who took an early lead with a season’s best 8.20secs in the 60m hurdles. That put the Swede five points clear of Ennis (8.22secs) who was two ahead of third-placed Sotherton (8.23secs).
A personal best for Ennis in the high jump saw the young Briton overhaul Kluft and open up a 34 point lead in the overall rankings. Ennis was the only athlete to go clear at 1.91m and was a fraction away from making it 1.94m as her final attempt only just dislodged the bar. Kluft and world heptathlon silver medallist Ruckstuhl both had a best jump of 1.88mm, as did Sotherton who herself claimed a personal best in the process.
Into the afternoon session and there was yet another change at the top as an inspired Sotherton set another lifetime best in the shot. Her put of 14.57m was enough to open a narrow two point lead over Kluft, with Ennis dropping down to fifth despite a personal best of 13.28m.
Kluft regained the lead in the fourth event – the long jump – after an all-or-nothing last round jump of 6.59m. Sotherton had looked set to increase her lead over Kluft after a second round 6.46m but, despite improving to 6.51m in her final jump she found herself 24 points behind the Swede going into the last event. Ruckstuhl moved into third overall with a leap of 6.50m.
Overall, Sotherton was pleased with her day’s work. “ I would have liked to have come first but being in a competition and doing so well against the Olympic Champion shows I'm going the right way,” she said.
“If I'd beaten her, I'd have been the first person to do it. I've really worked my guts out and it's been fantastic to come here as we've all raised our game. The High Jump was the best for me with a massive PB. With people like Carolina in the field it always makes it a lot harder but it's still great fun. It's been a really great day.”