Tokyo Olympics: Katarina Johnson-Thompson lies fifth after three heptathlon events
Katarina Johnson-Thompson has overcome all manner of hurdles just to make it to the Tokyo Olympics. On the evidence of the first part of the heptathlon, there remains a glimmer of hope she can overcome this one.
The world champion had admitted on the eve of competition she did not know how her body would hold up to the rigours of seven events and, with four of them still to go, that has still not been fully answered.
Lengthy treatment on her Achilles between rounds of the high jump highlighted the magnitude of the physical challenge.
Days before the games, Johnson-Thompson, who lies fifth after three events – 139 points off leader Nafi Thiam, had declared herself fit but not necessarily in personal best form. Inspired to aim for the top having watched the BBC series Gold Rush in the event build-up, she insisted the Olympics would highlight the championship performer in her.
And so it proved in her opening event, the 100m hurdles, as she won her heat in 13.27 seconds, the quickest time she had run outside of Doha in 2019, when she had looked unbeatable virtually all competition long.
However, eight months after Achilles surgery, the jumping events were always going to be the big question mark. She lacked her usual fluency in the high jump, having a failure at 1.80m and two at 1.83m, heights she would usually sail over as an athlete with a PB of 1.98. She eventually bowed out at 1.86m, some way short of the 1.95m achieved in Doha as world champion.
Thiam, meanwhile, managed a season’s best 1.98m but 10cm shy of her own PB, giving Johnson-Thompson some relative positivity.
In the shot put, the Britain threw her second-ever furthest distance of 13.31m and, while Thiam managed 14.82m, it was below the Belgian’s usual best.
Johnson-Thompson’s boyfriend Andrew Pozzi picked up a fastest loser spot in the 110m hurdles final while Jodie Williams dipped under the 50second mark for the first time in her career to make the 400m final