Carolina Kluft in the triple jump qualifying (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Stress fractures sideline Klüft and Kallur twins, but World Heptathlon champion confident about indoor season

Carolina Kluft has a stress fracture that could keep her out of the 2009 indoor season. But she is not alone in Swedish athletics to suffer from the curse of athletes. Three other elite competitors on the Swedish squad are suffering from the same problem: the Kallur twins and 400m specialist Emma Agbonjer.

In a strange coincidence all four women train in Växjo in the south of the country. Even odder is the fact that they are all injured in the same place, the shin-bone.

One of the most famous stress fractures of recent times belonged to marathon runner Paula Radcliffe who has just won New York after coming back from a hip fracture that destroyed her Olympic chances.

Stress fractures are caused by pressure from endless repetitive training, but the position of the break is vital in the time it takes for a fracture to clear up. The greater the blood flow to the area, the faster the cure.

In Osaka 2007, Klüft  became the only Heptathlete to win three World titles, but for the last Olympics she decided to switch events and concentrate on the Long and Triple Jump instead.

Her coach, Agerbjer Bergvall, told the Swedish press that Klüft's fracture is not as serious as the other three athletes': "She can't do any jumps training but we are pushing hard with running and strength training," he said. He was confident his charge would be competing indoors this winter.

The athlete herself was positive about the injury and appeared to agree with her coach, rejecting any threat of missing the indoor season: "They say it will heal," she said, "and things look good. But it's certainly strange that Jenny and Sanna have got the same injury. I can't say if it has been caused by something in training, but it is probably the case.”

"It's a very unusual injury. My lower leg hurt during the summer, but we treated it with ice and it went away. We had no idea it was something more serious," said Klüft.

For Susanna and Jenny Kallur, the problem seems more serious and a decision is imminent on whether they will be operated on. "We have been concentrating on general training these last three weeks," said coach Torbjorn Eriksson speaking of Susanna's case, "and we haven't put any pressure on the leg. We are just doing what does not cause pain."

Susanna, the World Indoor record holder for 60m Hurdles, suffered from a hamstring injury in the summer that prevented her from competing a full programme before the Olympics in Beijing. But she looked in excellent form in the Bird's Nest until she fell in the semis, missing out on the sprint hurdles final when she looked in shape to take a medal. She also returned to the track after the Games running 12.71 in Zürich.

Sister Jenny, on the other hand, has been sidelined for almost a year with her fracture, a fate that Agbonjer wants to avoid: "I got the fracture in September, but by February it hadn't even started to heal so I chose an operation," said the 27-year-old.
"They scraped the bone out around the fracture and substituted it with bone from under the knee," said Agbonjer.  "Now I'm back in training and things look good. Some exercises are painful but at least I can train."

Michael Butcher for the IAAF