Athletics: Kluft brushes aside injury concerns

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The Independent Online

On the eve of what promises to be one of the most competitive heptathlon events ever, the 22-year-old Olympic champion was reported to have injured her left knee at Sweden's pre-World Championship training camp.

But she insists she is in perfect shape as she bids to retain the title she won in Paris two years ago with a personal best of 7,001 points.

"I feel really great right now," Kluft said. "I've had really good preparation and it's all been going really well. I think I will be able to beat my own personal best but the world record [held by Jackie Joyner-Kersee since 1988 with 7,291] is too good."

Kluft acknowledged that Eunice Barber, of France, and Britain's Kelly Sotherton will be her main rivals for the medals as she seeks to win her 13th consecutive heptathlon.

Barber leads this year's world rankings after making a successful comeback from injury with 6,889 points at Arles in June. The 30-year-old, who won the world title in 1999, said: "I'm ready to score 7,000 points. I am back. I have found again the competitive spirit."

The three-times 100 metres world champion Maurice Greene is insisting he is more motivated by helping the United States to a world record in the sprint relay than gaining revenge over the British team which won at last summer's Olympics.

The 31-year-old will compete only in the 4x100m here after being forced out of the US trials by a hamstring injury.

"Last year hurt, but revenge is not really in our vocabulary right now. There is not really going to be any revenge, but the win will be a lot sweeter if we beat the world record."

The current world record, set by the American team at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, stands at 37.4 sec - a mark they equalled a year later at the World Championships in Stuttgart.

Chris Lambert, who watched last year's relay win from the sidelines, will undergo a fitness test on Monday, the day before the 200m event begins.

Greene predicts an American clean sweep in Sunday's 100 metres individual event, nominating his training partner Leonard Scott as the most likely winner.