Carolina Kluft celebrates winning the women's heptathlon (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Carolina Klüft and Christian Olsson European Athletes of the Year

The Swedish heptathlete Carolina Klüft and her compatriot triple jumper Christian Olsson have been elected unanimously as winner of the "Waterford Crystal European Athlete of the Year Trophy 2003". The internet poll of the European Athletic Association ended with clear results in all three rankings Public, Media and Member Federations.

With her win at the World Championships in Paris Carolina Klüft became the third heptathlete achieving a total of more than 7000 points, and this not less than 11 years after the last result on this level by Jackie Joyner-Kersee (USA). Her National Record of 7001 points, based on five personal bests, was only six points below the European Record by Larisa Nikitina (RUS/1989). And as another figure to compare: The nearly 21 year old Swede from Växjö topped the result from last year's European Championships in Munich by 459 points!

After having won also the World Indoor title in Birmingham (GBR) "the blonde tornado", how she was named by journalists, remained unbeaten in the outdoor season with victories in Götzis, at the First League European Cup in Tallinn (EST) and finally in Paris. The European U23 gold medal in long jump (with the personal best of 6.86 metres) was only a intermezzo on the way to the season highlight in France.

Her teammate Christian Olsson had an similar outstanding season. The almost 24 year old athlete from Gothenburg remained unbeaten in 15 outdoor competition, in a series of events which he had started on Crete with the National Record of 17.77 metres. Like Carolina Klüft also Olsson won at the World Indoor Championships (with 17.70 metres).

The European Champion 2002 took the leading role from World Record Holder Jonathan Edwards. In six competitions Olsson achieved a record of 5:1 wins against the long time reigning triple jumper - and this was during the indoor season. The last athlete who had won against Olsson was Walter Davis (USA) on 23 February in Liévin (FRA) with 17.16 metres (and the small difference of 2 centimetres).

For Christian Olsson the past two and half years has been like a saga. Since June 2001 he has done 55 outdoor competitions, and has jumped passed the 17 metres-line in 53 of them. Last season 52 out of 64 jumps, or 80 per cent, were beyond 17 metres.

Standings
Men
1 Olsson Christian SWE
2 Korzeniowski Robert POL
3 Gibilisco Giuseppe ITA
4 Alekna Virgilijus LTU
5 Sebrle Roman CZE
6 Baala Mehdi FRA
7 Makarov Sergey RUS
8 Borzakovskiy Yuriy RUS
9 Holm Stefan SWE
10 Raquil Marc FRA

Women
1 Klüft Carolina SWE
2 Radcliffe Paula GBR
3 Barber Eunice FRA
4 Feofanova Svetlana RUS
5 Ayhan Sureyya TUR
6 Bergqvist Kajsa SWE
7 Lebedeva Tatyana RUS
8 Isinbayeva Yelena RUS
9 Manjani Mirela GRE
10 Kelesidou Anastasia GRE