The juggernaut that is Carolina Kluft’s bid to win a third World Heptathlon title continued its inexorable course in the Long Jump as dusk began to fall around the Nagai Stadium tonight.
Kluft, a world-class long jumper in her own right, produced an impressive series of 6.65, 6.85 and 6.84 metres, to score another 1122 points.
Yet the 24-year-old Swede did not extend her overall lead. For in the third round, Lyudmila Blonska produced the leap of her life, the Ukrainian jumping a PB 6.88 for 1132 points.
Blonska, the World Indoor champion, had been in second place overnight, and thus now edged closer to her Swedish rival, but her undisguised delight at her latest achievement was surely because, baring a complete disaster in the Javelin, the next event, she felt she had secured the silver medal.
Until the third round, Blonska and her rival for second place, Kelly Sotherton of Britain, had cancelled out each other’s efforts. Both fouled in the first round (Blonska with a massive, near-7m jump, thanks to her being some 30cm over the take-off board), then Sotherton set her own PB at 6.68 for 1066 points.
With Blonska yet to score in the Long Jump, the pressure was on. Her response was a 6.70m effort. Then, after Sotherton fouled her third round jump, Blonska managed her event-winning effort.
With Blonska being a 50-metre Javelin thrower, and Sotherton not, the top two medal positions, at least, seem to be set.
Behind the top three, no one managed to make up any ground. Jessica Ennis might have improved on those ahead of her if her third-round 6.23m had not been achieved when taking off some 27cm behind the board. As it was, her 6.33 had to suffice (953). Jennifer Oeser (GER) extended her lead on Nataliya Dobrynska (UKR), as they jumped 6.25 and 6.12 respectively, with Austra Skuyte (LTU) advancing into overall sixth place thanks to her 6.28 season’s best.
The field has been thinned out slightly, with the overnight withdrawals of Dutchwoman Karin Ruckstuhl, who had been placed eighth, and Russia’s World Junior champion Tatyana Chernova, who had been struggling with an injury on Saturday.
The penultimate event, the Javelin, is due to get underway immediately.
Overall standings after five events:
1, Kluft 5284
2, Blonska 5146
3, Sotherton 5055
4, Ennis 4895
5, Oeser 4742
Osaka 2007 News Team/sd