Katarina Johnson-Thompson describes heptathlon victory as ‘best...
Katarina Johnson-Thompson describes heptathlon victory as ‘best day of my life’

Katarina Johnson-Thompson describes heptathlon victory as ‘best day of my life’

Katarina Johnson-Thompson hailed the best day of her life after completing a stunning comeback to claim a glorious gold at the World Championships. The 30-year-old won the fight to reclaim her world heptathlon crown from 2019 on Sunday night in Budapest . It represents a remarkable return to the top for Johnson-Thompson after a torn Achilles in 2020 and a calf injury at the Tokyo Olympics which forced her to quit after day one. She beat favourite, the American Anna Hall, by just 20 points after a season’s best of 6740. The Netherlands’ Anouk Vetter claimed bronze. “It’s more special (than Doha 2019). It’s the best day of my life,” she said. “I can’t believe it. It’s like being in a dream. I have been thinking about this for months and months, and nobody else could see the vision apart from me and my team. I’m just so happy that it’s come true. “In Tokyo I still thought I had a chance, I still thought I could have medalled. In Eugene (finishing eighth as defending champion last year) I tried my best and I wasn’t getting anywhere. “Eugene was the worst of me. I feel like this time last year I came away from Eugene, it was such a horrible experience to be in the competition but not competing for the medals. “I just thought I’d fade into the background and just be one of those athletes who’s just there to make up the numbers and it’s just the last thing I wanted. I kept building and believing.” It was a shock victory following Johnson-Thompson’s career-threatening Achilles injury. She made it back in time for the Tokyo Olympics, only to suffer a calf injury in the 200m and pull out. The defence of her Commonwealth title last year saw her return to the podium, but a global medal puts her back among the world’s best ahead of next year’s Paris Olympics. Defending champion Nafi Thiam may have been out with her own Achilles problem, but Johnson-Thompson displayed the grit and courage to prove she can threaten the Belgian again in France. She labelled the first day as one of the most gruelling she has experienced following a delayed start after a storm in Budapest. But, following a slow start in the 100m hurdles and needing three attempts to clear 1.80m in the high jump, she settled. A throw of 13.64m in the shot put and victory in her 200m heat in 23.48s left her 93 points adrift of leader Hall overnight. She surged into the lead on Sunday morning when a leap of 6.54m in the long jump put her 19 points ahead of Hall. She then launched a personal best of 46.14m in the javelin as Hall dropped to third and gave Johnson-Thompson a 26-point advantage over Vetter. Ultimately, it came down to the final 800m on Sunday evening at the National Athletics Centre, with Johnson-Thompson smashing her personal best to clock two minutes 05.63 seconds and finishing just behind Hall in the last heat. Earlier, Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita opened their 100m challenge with minimum fuss. Neita, in heat one, ran 11.03secs while Asher-Smith followed her in heat two to clock 11.04s. Defending champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce ran 11.01s with the USA’s Sha’Carri Richardson qualifying fastest in 10.92s. Laura Muir reached Tuesday’s 1500m final along with Melissa Courtney-Bryant and Katie Snowden before Josh Kerr and Neil Gourley also progressed to the men’s final on Wednesday. Britain’s Matt Hudson-Smith, who won bronze last year, reached the 400m semi-finals after coming second in his heat behind 2016 Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk. Victoria Ohuruogu and Ama Pipi also reached the women’s 400m semi final. Hudson-Smith said: “I just wanted the qualifier and to get through to the semis as comfortably as possible so I have got the job done. There is so much left in the tank, but I know I am going to have to fight.”

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