Katarina Johnson-Thompson: A one-two-three for Britain in Rio would be nice, wouldn't it?

The 21-year-old heptathlete has stepped into Jessica Ennis-Hill's shoes by beating a world-class field in Götzis. She tells Matt Majendie it augurs well for 2016

"It means everything and nothing at the same time." It is not that Katarina Johnson-Thompson is a mass of contradictions, just that the Liverpudlian, mature well beyond her age of 21, is aware that in years to come she will not be remembered for winning in Götzis.

The small Austrian town acts as home to the unofficial heptathlon world championships this year, and Johnson-Thompson is the de facto world champion after a victory there last weekend, when she shattered her personal best by nearly 250 points.

It is a result that will also mean she is added to a Hollywood-style walk of fame of winners on the 40th anniversary of the first event in Götzis, where Daley Thompson, Denise Lewis and Jessica Ennis-Hill have all triumphed in the past.

But as she says again: "It means everything and nothing at the same time. It means everything to the athletes in the sense that the best heptathletes in the world turn up at that one meeting and you want to be No 1, but it means nothing as well as it's not a major championship."

If nothing else, it lays down a marker for this and ensuing seasons. Johnson-Thompson's winning score of 6,682 was the highest by any athlete since Super Saturday 2012 inside the Olympic Stadium, where the now pregnant Ennis-Hill blazed a trail.

The pair remain intertwined, Johnson-Thompson always billed as the "next Ennis-Hill". Now there is a sense that the poster girl of 2012 has her work cut out to catch up when her maternity leave ends.

"I'm not sure about that," says the fast-talking Johnson-Thompson, who verges on being scatty in conversation and competition, and seems to carry a sense that she's not wholly aware how good she is. "Jess is an unbelievable athlete, the defending Olympic champion and has come close to 7,000 points. Never underestimate Jess, that's a dangerous thing to do."

But could Ennis-Hill be nervous about returning to competition, having seen her British rival's remarkable progress this year alone? "Oh, I don't think so," the Scouser adds with a laugh.

On a global stage the rise has been fairly meteoric for the younger athlete, going from 15th at the London Olympics to fifth at last year's World Championships before her recent win.

Ennis-Hill has made no secret of the fact that so prodigious are the younger woman's talents that she fully expects Johnson-Thompson to exceed her achievements, while Thompson recently described her as "the future of athletics".

With Morgan Lake, the 17-year-old schoolgirl also in action in Götzis where she finished 17th with a 6,000pt-plus personal best, "GB heptathlon has never been so strong", as Ennis-Hill tweeted. It may be pushing it to aspire for a one-two-three come the next Olympics in Rio but Johnson-Thompson adds, "that'd be nice, wouldn't it?"

The double-barrelled rival in her sights this season, though, is the Canadian Brianne Theisen-Eaton, wife of the Olympic and world champion Ashton Eaton, who finished just 41 points back in Götzis and is the main threat to Johnson-Thompson at the Commonwealth Games.

"This is only round one and round two is when it matters," she says of the potential showdown in Glasgow. "I need to go away and work on that. It's the title that matters this season. We got on well – Brianne's lovely. When I saw her last in Götzis we said, 'See you in Glasgow and goodbye to the sunshine'. There's just 40 or so points between us so it's going to be tight."

She returned to the gym to prepare for those Commonwealth Games and launches into a dissection of her performance in Götzis that gives the impression she rather underperformed: "I could have done a lot better. I'd run the hurdles better before but that was OK, then I was a bit rusty in the high jump. I was happy with the 200 metres and the long jump as well, although I marginally missed out on my PB in the long jump when I fouled what was clearly a bigger jump, so that was disappointing.

"I was more than happy with the javelin, as that was a surprise as I'd not really been able to throw in training because of an injury, so Mike [Holmes, her coach] got me trying a slightly different technique. And in the 800m, I did just enough."

Having pushed herself past an overall points record, one would suspect her body to feel broken but she is better off than after Moscow last year. "I felt dreadful after the World Championships. Ahead of the 800 metres [where she had a slim chance of a medal] there were so many possibilities – , finishing a certain number of seconds behind and ahead of other people. Normally, I'm terrified for the 800m as I know it's going to hurt – it's absolute pain after six events. But in Götzis I was calm and knew what I had to do. It still hurt, mind."

It is a far cry for the daughter of a dancer, who looked to be following suit – "from being in nappies to about the age of 10, that's what I did, dance". The problem was she didn't like it. Football was the passion, followed by athletics. Each event she tried, she relished, and one event eventually became seven, ending with the most brutal track-and-field discipline open to her.

"It's hard and it hurts, my body still hurts," she says. "When you cross the line in the 800m, you feel you've earned that success, having pushed yourself to the limit. In Götzis I knew I was in good shape but similarly anybody was capable of winning. To achieve that was great."

It has been a year of mostly highs. She broke the British high jump record in February with a clearance of 1.96m before winning long jump silver with a PB of 6.81m at the World Indoors in Sopot a month later, and now Götzis.

She was also recently named the world's 28th most marketable athlete by SportsPro magazine, above Sir Ben Ainslie and Kevin Pietersen. It is a testament to her potential in and out of competition. Not that she is satisfied. "I expect a lot of myself and put a lot of pressure on myself. I've not really won anything major yet."

Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations should be regarded as an offensive act
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Morrissey pictured in 2013
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices