COLUMBIA — Sophomore Katrine Haarklau leaped over hurdles in the 100-meter race, threw the 8.8 pound ball during shotput, cleared the fiberglass bar in high jump and blazed through the 200-meter sprint.
And that was just day one.
On day two of the Ole Miss Invitational last weekend, Haarklau competed in the long jump, javelin throw and 800-meter race to round out the heptathlon. When the competition concluded, Haarklau finished with a personal best 5,374 points to win the event.
But to Haarklau, the first-place finish mattered little. Just being able to compete in the heptathlon was a victory in itself. Tendinitis in her knees and stress fractures in both feet kept Haarklau from participating in the heptathlon at a meet since the summer of 2010.
“It was wonderful to do it without the pain,” Haarklau said.
Combined events coach Dan Lefever praised Haarklau for her patience and persistence. Since the beginning of her freshmen year, Haarklau has received 45 minutes of daily treatment to cope with the injuries.
“Doing ice baths, doing the foam roller and addressing all the little details are what makes her a professional,” Lefever said. “It’s her outlook everyday that’s her biggest asset.”
To ensure Haarklau made a full recovery, Lefever kept her from competing in the heptathlon last year. Haarklau used that time to get healthy and train for her other event, the pole vault.
After this season is over, Haarklau said she would choose a single track and field event to focus on. Training for one event maximizes Haarklau’s opportunity to compete for Norway in the 2016 Olympics, a goal Haarklau’s had since she was six years old.
Right now Haarklau said she is leaning toward the pole vault. As a freshman, she finished 15th at the NCAA Championships and set the Missouri outdoor school record.
“She’s already the second best pole vaulter in Norway’s history,” Lefever said. “She’s like a national treasure.”
In a few months time, Haarklau will have to make a decision. She isn’t ruling out pushing ahead with the heptathlon, but said the chances of choosing the event aren’t likely.
Her coach isn’t ruling anything out.
“What could she go to the Olympic games in?” Lefever asked himself. “Maybe it’s both.”