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Page last updated at 16:18 GMT, Thursday, 20 March 2008

Britons boosted by Kluft opt-out

Kelly Sotherton and Jessica Ennis
Sotherton and Ennis will be going for heptathlon gold in Beijing

British heptathlon medal hopefuls Kelly Sotherton and Jessica Ennis admit this summer's Olympics are wide open after Carolina Kluft opted out of the event.

Kluft, 25, has lifted every major heptathlon title since winning the World Championship gold medal in 2003.

But she wants to concentrate on the long jump and triple jump in Beijing and Sotherton said: "It's wide open now as Carolina's a sensational champion."

Ennis added: "It'll be exciting to see how this might mix things up."

Sotherton finished third behind Kluft at the 2004 Olympics and again in the 2007 world championships, an event which saw the 22-year-old lead at one point on her way to a fourth-placed finish.

It's great news for everyone else in the heptathlon

Jessica Ennis

And, with Kluft - who is undefeated in the heptathlon since 2001 - opting out of defending her title this summer, both will feel they have an excellent medal chance in Beijing.

However, Sotherton insists Kluft's decision leaves the Birchfield Harrier feeling tinged with sadness.

"I am disappointed Carolina is not going to be competing in the Heptathlon in Beijing - it takes away my chance to finally beat her.

"I understand it adds to the pressure on me but my aim was to go out and win gold anyway so my goals and preparations won't be changing in any way.

"I believe there will be a chance for us to meet again in the future."


The news also shocked Ennis, who said: "I'm totally surprised as I'd had it in my head that she would be there in Beijing.

"It's a good move for her to go into another event and try to achieve what she has done in heptathlon. I'm sure she will do well.

"That said, it's great news for everyone else in the heptathlon."

Ukrainian Lyudmila Blonska, 30, and France's Eunice Barber, 33, are likely to provide the main opposition to the Britons come the showpiece event this summer.

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see also
Kluft to skip Olympic heptathlon
19 Mar 08 |  Athletics
Team GB for Beijing
17 Mar 08 |  Team GB
Sotherton and Kwakye earn silvers
07 Mar 08 |  Athletics
Which athletes will shine in 2008?
25 Jan 08 |  Athletics
London Marathon on the BBC
14 Jan 08 |  Athletics
Olympic Dreams - Jessica Ennis
03 Oct 07 |  London 2012
Extratime: Carolina Kluft
24 Aug 07 |  Hardtalk

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