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Kluft on how to reach the top
Carolina Kluft celebrates success at the Worlds
Success is a regular occurrence for Carolina

Smile and the rest of the world will smile with you - not if you're Carolina Kluft's competitors.

The Swedish star has dominated the heptathlon since bursting on the international athletics scene in 2002.

But unlike most of her peers, Kluft believes the key to her success is enjoying herself and to keep on smiling.

GROWING UP

Sport has always been a big part of my life. My dad was a football player, my mum did long jump and my three sisters love sport as well.

I always thought I would end up as a footballer like my dad, but a visit to an athletics track at the age of 11 made me change my mind.

Carolina Kluft in action in the long jump during the World Athletics Championships
Carolina prefers jumping events over throwing

Athletics had always seemed a bit boring before then, but I went to a training session with my sister and saw just how much fun it can be.

My parents never pressurised me into doing athletics - they just wanted me to do whatever I enjoyed. The most important thing for them was that I had fun whatever I did.

There has never been one particular athlete who I idolised, but there were many people around me that I looked up to.

They could have been a sports star, my mother, a friend - anyone really. I just followed examples from them that I thought were good.

For me, one of the best things about heptathlon is the variety of sports it offers.

I think I'm more of a jumper than a thrower, so for me the long jump and high jump are more fun.

The heptathlon is such a good event because if one event doesn't go too well you've got a chance in another.

WINNING ISN'T EVERYTHING

Heptathlon is a demanding sport, so it's vital to make sure your training is well organised.

It's important that you train with your head as much as your body.

Relaxing at home helps

You have to listen to your body.

When it says 'no' you have to listen. To help you with this you need a coach that you trust.

But the most important thing is that you're having fun.

It's not about the results or being number one in the world, it's about feeling satisfied and enjoying it. If you don't have that joy, you can't continue.

Carolina's facts
Born: 2 February 1983
Event: Heptathlon
Career highlights: World Junior Champion, 2002; European Champion, 2002; World Indoor Champion, 2003; Olympic champion, 2004, World Champion 2005
Hobbies: Relaxing, listening to music, spending time with friends and family
Top tip: Whatever sport you choose, have fun!

Immediately before an event I listen to music to pump myself up, but in the build up I try to keep everything as it normally is.

I spend time with my friends and family and I eat the foods that I normally would.

Basically, I try to be just me. If I change something that could make me nervous.

When we're competing against each other, all the heptathletes become like a little family.

Obviously I want to win, but the best situation for me would be if everyone could be happy.

I don't want anyone to be sad or upset. I focus on myself, but I wish my competitors luck as well. If I beat them, great. If don't, no problem.

ENJOY YOURSELF

If you like competing in many different events, heptathlon is the sport for you.

If you only like one event you should put everything into that.

Carolina Kluft poses with her Worlds gold medal
More medals to come in the future

The most important thing is to do what you feel is right for you and what you find most enjoyable.

Ask yourself: 'What do I like'? and then do that sport. I love to do many events - I think it's so much fun.

I love to be out there competing and I want to show everybody how much fun it is.

I don't think I have to do it because I'm a star. I'm not a star, I'm just an ordinary person who wants to do something because I think it's fun.

I'm very ambitious but I try to think about one year at a time. Everyone suffers disappointments in their career but you shouldn't let them get you down.

I try not to look back - I just think about the future and what I want to do.

Of course you have bad competitions, but you just have to learn from them.

It's all good experience and you'll benefit from it as you go on in life.



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