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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 August, 2003, 17:33 GMT 18:33 UK
Kluft grabs heptathlon gold
Carolina Kluft
Carolina Kluft confirmed her reputation as one of the rising stars of athletics by clinching gold in the women's heptathlon in Paris.

The 20-year-old Swede broke the 7,000-points barrier by a single point to become only the third woman in history to do so.

French hope, former world champion Eunice Barber settled for silver after going head-to-head with Kluft across two days.

Belarussian Natalya Sazamovich claimed the bronze with 6,524 points, while Britain's Olympic champion Denise Lewis finished a satisfactory fifth on her return to major competition.

"It was a wonderful competition in front of a fantastic crowd," said Kluft, who won over the crowd with her playful pre-event antics and huge smiles.

"There was also a big group from my home town of Vaxjo. It's a big lift for me if you can hear some Swedish.

"I love being on the track and that's why I keep smiling.

"The reason I do this sport is for fun, I don't think about specific targets and when it stops being fun then I'll quit."

Kluft romped through the competition setting six personal best in seven disciplines.

The only wobble came in the long jump where she recorded two fouls before leaping to 6.68m - the best jump of the round and 7cm further than Barber.

Britain's Denise Lewis
I have to use this experience as a stepping stone
Britain's Denise Lewis
The European champion went in to her last event, the 800m needing a time of 2 minutes 11.65 secs or better to break the European record.

Kluft rounded Barber, who regards 800m as one of her strongest disciplines, on the final bend to power home in style.

But the Swede could only manage 2:12.12 and must wait for another chance to launch an assault on Russian Larisa Nikitina's European record and Jackie Joyner-Kersee's 7291 world record.

"The world record? If I get it, I get it, but I do this for fun and it's not something I'm thinking about," insisted Kluft.

"I am dreaming of Athens, but it's a bit silly to think too far ahead."

Next year's Olympics will certainly already be on the mind of Britain's Denise Lewis, who started her steady comeback after the birth of her daughter and a bout of injury and illness.

The Birchfield Harrier, who turns 31 on Wednesday, had a mixed competition, strong performances in the shot put, 100m hurdles and javelin were dragged down by a dismal high jump, where she only managed 1.64m.

"I am pleased that I made it here, that's a big positive to take out of the weekend," reflected Lewis.

"I need to use this as a stepping stone, I have always said that is what this was meant to be.

"Apart from the high jump everything was as we expected.

"I am somewhere between 75 and 80% fit, I am missing a lot of explosive strength and power, but that's something to work on."

British team-mate Julie Hollman also put in a respectable performance in Paris, finishing in 14th place overall.

Defending champion Yelena Prokhorova of Russia was fourth with 6,452 points.

Heptathlon results:

1. Carolina Kluft (Swe) 7001pts
2. Eunice Barber (Fra) 6755
3. Natalya Sazanovich (Blr) 6524
4. Yelena Prokhorova (Rus) 6452
5. Denise Lewis (Gbr) 6254
6. Gertrud Bacher (Ita) 6166
7. Larisa Netseporuk (Est) 6154
8. Sonja Kesselschläger (Ger) 6134
9. Aryiro Strataki (Gre) 6077
10. Austra Skujyte (Ltu) 6077

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