Sollentuna, Sweden Two days ago Kajsa Bergqvist left the Rome Olympic Stadium extremely frustrated after finishing third at 1.97 in the Golden Gala.
“I didn't have even one technically sound jump today! Physically I am in top shape but I just couldn't take advantage of that because I couldn't get my run-up working. So I have never before been looking forward with such anxiousness to our Swedish national championships. I almost feel like I will be jumping 2.20(!) on Sunday....”
Well, not quite 2.20m but Kajsa did set a new world season leading mark for the 2006 outdoor season by clearing 2.04m by a wide margin and added three "decent" attempts at the would-be World record of 2.10m. Obviously the advice from her coach Yannick Tregaro she missed in Rome had indeed solved the problems.
Because Kajsa's jumping was extremely impressive during this sunny afternoon in the Stockholm suburb of Sollentuna: She entered at 1.86m and made that as well as 1.91m, 1.96m and the new yearly best of 2.01m on first attempts with lots of daylight between herself and the bar. At 2.04m she missed on her first two attempts but on the third everything clicked technically and she probably would have gone clear even if the bar had been set at 2.06m or even 2.07m!
And it was not just getting redemption after the disappointing evening in Rome that brought an extra wide smile on her face: The Swedish Championships were organised by her club Turebergs FK at her hometurf Sollentunavallen, the sports arena where she had spent countless hours – first playing football and later doing athletics - when growing up. And now she brought her Sollentuna to the very top of the World list!
The Helsinki bronze medallist of last year Emma Green is however still struggling somewhat technically. Emma cleared 1.89m and had one attempt at 1.91m that was quite close. Physically she has the tools to get back to the kind of heights necessary to be a factor in the battle for the medals at the European Championships in her home town of Gothenburg in less than a month.
Pole Vault provides best competition
The best event overall during the weekend was the men's Pole Vault where three men made the entry standard for the European Championships – with former World Championships medallist Patrik Kristianssen our for the season with a knee injury watching from the stands. World Indoor silver medallist Alhaji Jeng, who was the top European in Rome on Friday night, won at 5.70m and had one promising attempt at 5.88, one centimetre above the Swedish record.
The record holder Oscar Janson has been beset by injuries since that 5.87m three-years-ago and so far this summer he has competed only in warm-up shoes due to Achilles trouble. But today he tried the spikes on for the first time and promptly made 5.55m with a reasonable margin. Also returning to form after more than a year spoiled by injury was Jesper Fritz, who improved his outdoor PB of 5.45m and indoor PB of 5.55m, by clearing 5.60m and being close to making also 5.70m.
Klüft as busy as usual
While Kajsa Bergqvist and Alhaji Jeng made the Rome-Sollentuna double the Golden League hurdles winner Susanna Kallur chose to get some rest. That gave her twin sister Jenny (6th in Helsinki Worlds last summer) the chance to get her first ever national title in the hurdles. Jenny missed the early summer with a groin injury and is on the comeback trail. She ran 13.17 in the heats and then won the final convincingly in 13.41 in the somewhat tricky wind conditions.
Finishing second in that hurdles was Carolina Klüft who thereby ended a typically busy weekend: On Friday she had the Long Jump qualification, on Saturday she rushed back and forth between the Long Jump pit and the Shot Put ring and on Sunday she threw the Javelin Throw and ran the 100m Hurdles.
Being in a heavy training phase she competed on quite tired legs but was still satisfied, especially with the fact that the hamstring problem that had bothered her the first half of this summer was gone. She won the Long Jump (6.46 and a foul that was considerably longer), she finished as said 2nd in the hurdles (yearly best of 13.54 in the heats), fourth in the Shot Put (14.90m in first attempt, then three fouls and two passes) and fifth in the Javelin Throw (consistent at 45-46m with 46.73m her longest).
Long Jump for Olsson
Christian Olsson wisely took a rest from triple jumping and contested the Long Jump instead. Despite not having competed in the event for three years and mostly jumping into a slight headwind Olsson still got another national title as he handled all the specialists by jumping 7.46m.
Ninth title for Holm
The expected prestigious match-up in the men's High Jump between Stefan Holm and his young challenger Linus Thörnblad never materialised as Linus due to a slight foot injury decided not to risk anything in view of the upcoming European Championships. So the road was cleared for Stefan to get his 9th straight outdoor title.
2.27m with no misses on the way was sufficient and Stefan himself was quite happy with his jumping although he had been looking for a 2.30m+ meet. Even happier was his "life time opponent" Staffan Strand who is still in the early part of the comeback trail following a foot injury that spoiled last year. By clearing 2.25m now he made the entry standard for the European Championships in August and hopefully he will be capable of a few more centimetres then and if so the 2002 bronze medallist will be challenging for a place in the 2006 final.
Stefan Holm's 9th title in a row was still not the top winning streak at these championships. Robert Kronberg took his 10th in the 110m Hurdles when he won by 0.33 seconds and Anna Söderberg took her 14th in the Discus where her 60.65 gave her winning margin of some eight metres. These athletes were in their early twenties when getting their respective first gold medals, so Javelin Thrower Ellinor Widh has got a real head start in that aspect as she at the tender age of 16 now defeated all the seniors!
As has been the pattern in recent years in Swedish athletics almost all the international class performances came in the jumps and to some extent in the high hurdles. The Olympic and World steeplechase finalist Mustafa Mohamed however did impress although his winning time was mediocre (8:34.85). But this was due to him holding back and running the first two kilometres as a pacesetter for a couple of other runners that were trying to make the entry standard for the Europeans.
Someone who didn't hold back was 200m runner Johan Wissman. He blow away the field winning by almost ten metres win his 20.54, a time surpassed by only three other Europeans this summer. The former World Indoor silver medallist is still in heavy training and therefore has every reason to expect to be considerably faster at the Ullevi Stadium in three weeks time.
But 111th Swedish Athletics Championships still very much belonged to local hero Kajsa Bergqvist, and although her world record attempts were not successful the weekend concluded with her receiving an IAAF World Record Plaque. It was the award commemorating her World Indoor Record of 2.08 from Arnstadt last February that she now received in the very place were it (i.e. her athletics caree) all began some twenty years ago!
Lennart Julin for the IAAF
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