Forged in Fire: Konstanze Klosterhalfen
Birmingham was the place where it finally came together in emphatic style for Konstanze Klosterhalfen.
After a breakthrough 2017 in which she also claimed silver at the European Indoor Championships, the German middle-distance talent – now a household name in athletics circles – stepped it up a further notch at the Alexander Stadium to deliver a performance of truly epic proportions that still resonates to this day.
Facing a star-studded Muller Grand Prix Birmingham 3000m field including Sifan Hasan of the Netherlands, the Bonn-based athlete roared to a national record of 8:29.89 – taking the considerable scalp of world champion Hellen Obiri in the process.
The milestone result was not enough to pip the experienced Hassan into first place, but Klosterhalfen was at least able to take considerable solace from victory over Kenyan star Obiri, as well as her own standout time.
"I beat the world champion," she commented. "I cannot believe it. I am so happy!
“It has been such a memorable year for me."
While success over Obiri was considered something of a shock at the time, in truth, it was hard to escape the feeling that displays of this magnitude had always been part of Klostertalfen’s destiny.
A three-time gold medallist at the European Junior Cross Country Championships, the youngster also claimed bronze in the 2016 World U20 Championships in Bydgoszcz as part of a stellar age-group career.
Mixing it with the big guys
Making the step up to the professional arena is always a daunting task for any athlete, but it was one that Klosterhalfen handled impeccably.
Taking to the professional arena like the proverbial duck to water, the German claimed her maiden senior medal at the 2017 European Indoor Championships in Belgrade behind Britain’s Laura Muir.
And while the season ended in disappointment with a semi-final exit at the IAAF World Championships in London, her standout Diamond League result at the Alexander Stadium crowned a year of real promise.
The future is now
Since then, Klosterhalfen’s progress has continued more or less unabated.
Seventh in the final of the 2018 World Indoor Championships, next on the radar was another meeting with regular rival Laura Muir at the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow earlier this year.
Racing on home soil, Muir was considered huge favourite to add to her burgeoning medal haul – yet Klosterhalfen also headed into the meet in sublime form herself.
A world-leading 3000m time of 8:32.47 in Leipzig saw hopes of an upset significantly raised, although in the end, Muir proved just too much in a riveting clash.
The duo are set to meet again later this year in Doha, with a string of talented Africans adding another formidable barrier to World Championship glory.
A world-class performer in her own right, immortality may well beckon for Klosterhalfen – but conjuring the spirit of Birmingham will be key to her doing so.
Tickets for the Muller Grand Prix Birmingham are now on sale at www.britishathletics.org.uk