Katarina Johnson-Thompson clinches stunning World Championship gold

Johnson-Thompson reclaimed the heptathlon world title in Budapest

Tom Harle
Sunday 20 August 2023 20:21 BST
Katarina Johnson-Thompson claimed gold in Budapest (Martin Rickett/PA)
Katarina Johnson-Thompson claimed gold in Budapest (Martin Rickett/PA) (PA Wire)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Katarina Johnson-Thompson went through hell to win a second world heptathlon title at the Budapest World Championships but said her run to gold was one of the simplest things she has ever done.

The hardest hurdle was to recapture fitness and confidence after an achilles rupture left her questioning her future in the sport, staring down the barrel with eighth at last year’s World Championships.

Renewed under the wing of British coach Aston Moore, Johnson-Thompson put together a brilliant all-round performance, taking advantage of injured and absent rivals to regain her title with 6740 points.

“I have been thinking about this for months and months and nobody else could see the vision apart from me and my team,” said the 30-year-old.

“I'm just so happy that it's come true. It's a dream come true to do it again.”

After a superb lifetime best in the javelin, Johnson-Thompson took a 43-point lead into the 800m climax.

Needing to win by nearly three seconds, American world leader Anna Hall surged into the lead in blind defiance of the knee injury that saw her strapped up throughout the second day of competition.

Johnson-Thompson slowly reeled her in and an inspired personal best run of 2:05.63 clinched gold by 20 points. Hall won silver and bronze went to Anouk Vetter of the Netherlands.

“That was the easiest run I've ever done in my life!” said Johnson-Thompson.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson of Team Great Britain celebrates after winning gold
Katarina Johnson-Thompson of Team Great Britain celebrates after winning gold (Getty Images)

“I didn't know the time until halfway around the victory lap. It's so easy to run when there's something on the line, that was one of the easiest things I've ever done.”

Johnson-Thompson’s improvement in the throws has been most marked, with a 13.64m shot put her third best-ever and the 46.14m javelin effort paving the way to top step of the podium.

Her traditional jumping strength held firm, a nervy 1.80m high jump clearance shifting the momentum of her campaign and 6.54m in the long jump putting distance between her and the field.

Johnson-Thompson went out for the 200m with a stated aim of banishing demons.

The image of KJT hobbling around the bend at the Tokyo Olympics painted the most vivid picture of her injury struggle but it was last year’s Worlds that was the nadir.

“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,” she said.

“I came away from there not believing I could get back to my 2019 self. All I wanted was a shot at gold and I'm so happy I was able to take that opportunity.”

The three-time Olympian makes no secret of the fact that an Olympic medal remains her burning desire and form and fitness dependent, she will be one of the favourites to grab one in Paris next summer.

Gold medalist Noah Lyles of Team United States and bronze medalist Zharnel Hughes of Team Great Britain
Gold medalist Noah Lyles of Team United States and bronze medalist Zharnel Hughes of Team Great Britain (Getty Images)

"This has given me so much confidence going forward into next year," she said. "Hopefully it will be more of the same then."

The men’s 100m delivered drama and bronze for Hughes, the first individual medal for a British man in the short sprint since Darren Campbell’s bronze in 2003.

Hughes came in with the title of fastest man in the world this year and hasn't yet lost it with American Noah Lyles’ winning time of 9.83 equalling the Brit’s world lead.

The 28-year-old finally conquered the starting issues that plagued him at the Tokyo Olympics to reach the rostrum.

"I knew I had the speed and I just needed to stay in the mix," he said. "Once I was in the mix I just needed to power through and everything would take care of itself.

“At the start of the season, I wrote on my vision board that I wanted to break both British records and get an individual medal. I’ve done all three of those so far.”

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