British Athletics Indoor Championships: Katarina Johnson-Thompson makes waves in absence of Jessica Ennis-Hill to win double gold


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The Independent Online

It is a venue synonymous with Jessica Ennis-Hill but on Sunday the English Institute of Sport very much belonged to the athlete billed as her successor, Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

Ordinarily, the long jump might have seen Britain’s double-barrelled heptathletes go head to head but a month after revealing she was pregnant, Ennis-Hill played no part at the British Athletics Indoor Championships. In truth, even if she had been here she would not have got close to the young pretender.

Johnson-Thompson showed that, for 2014 at the very least, she will be a more than capable stand-in, winning the British indoor title in the long jump with a best of 6.75metres, just 24 hours after setting a British record in the high jump. There was no national record this time around but it was a stadium and championship record, 19cm further than her previous best, set at the World Championships in Moscow last year and put her second in this year’s world rankings.

“It was definitely better than I could imagine. I’m over the moon with that,” said Johnson-Thompson, who slept barely three hours on Saturday night, instead watching slow motion clips of herself competing the previous day.

It is premature to say that Johnson-Thompson can match Ennis-Hill and edge towards the 7,000-point mark, as the 21-year-old still struggling with her throws. But with the Olympic champion missing, she looks a strong contender for this season.

A no jump in the first round was followed by a leap in the second of 6.45, which would have been enough for the title. Yet she returned in round five for her best of 6.75m, second on the UK all-time list indoors, to become the first Briton since Mary Rand in 1966 to win both the high jump and long jump indoor titles.

Johnson-Thompson will travel to Holland this week to challenge in a pentathlon in order to qualify for next month’s World Indoor Championship in Poland. “I really want to try to qualify in the pentathlon,” she added. “I just want to be able to do all this in the heptathlon because that’s my main event and that’s what I care about.”

It proved a great day for British multi-eventers as the 16-year-old Morgan Lake achieved a world indoor pentathlon youth record in an event in Vaxjo, Sweden. Her score of 4,284 points beat former Olympic champion Carolina Kluft’s previous record by 23 points.

Luke Cutts failed to live up to his early season promise in the men’s pole vault.

Just two weeks after breaking the British record with a clearance of 5.83m, second in the world this year, he managed just one successful vault in Sheffield of 5.45m before beating Max Eaves in a jump-off.

Cutts blamed his lacklustre display on being less than 100 per cent. He said: “I don’t feel too clever. I’ve got a trapped nerve and it was all right through vaulting but I just think it was the heating that made me feel a little bit sick.”

It proved a disappointing return to the track for former world and European 800m bronze medallist Jenny Meadows, who could only manage fourth place after four laps of the track. In the men’s event, Andrew Osagie, appeared to run the perfect tactical race to be the first across the line only to be disqualified for running out of his lane. The win went to  Muktar Mohammed.

Dina Asher-Smith, runner-up in the 60m the previous day, continued her strong weekend with victory in the 200m, the 18-year-old winning in a time of 23.20s, a UK junior record for the distance.