World Athletics Championship 2019: Katarina Johnson-Thompson dethrones Nafissatou Thiam in stunning upset to win gold

The Liverpudlian triumphed with a phenomenal score of 6,981 points

Nick Mashiter
Thursday 03 October 2019 23:18
Katarina Johnson-Thompson celebrates her gold medal
Katarina Johnson-Thompson celebrates her gold medal

Great Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson sprung a huge upset to claim a stunning heptathlon gold medal at the World Championships.

The 26-year-old took the crown with 6,981 points – beating Jessica Ennis-Hill’s previous national record – on Thursday to seal her fifth senior title.

Nafi Thiam, who holds the Olympic title, was odds-on favourite to defend her 2017 victory before the start of competition but finished second on 6,677 points, with Austria’s Verena Preiner third.

Belgium’s Thiam has been untouchable for the last three years, winning world, European and Olympic titles. She had not lost since Gotzis in 2016.

But Johnson-Thompson sent out a major warning to Thiam ahead of next year’s Olympics in Tokyo and won Great Britain’s second gold in Qatar after Dina Asher-Smith’s 200m victory on Wednesday.

The Liverpudlian reacts after clinching her first world title

The Liverpudlian joins an exclusive club of eight British women to have won individual world gold – including Asher-Smith and Ennis-Hill, who has three heptathlon titles.

It was also sweet redemption after her nightmare World Championships in Beijing in 2015 following three long jump failures and a high jump shocker in London two years ago.

“I’m just so happy I was able to step my performance up and put my past behind me for good,” Johnson-Thompson said.

“I thought I was going to run off the line in the 800m and get disqualified. I didn’t take anything for granted until I saw my name on the scoreboard. Just because the timetable was bang, bang, bang, nothing sunk in.”

A poor long jump and javelin from Thiam put Johnson-Thompson in control on the second day at the Khalifa International Stadium.

Johnson-Thompson won the long jump with a leap of 6.77m – well ahead of Thiam’s 6.35m – which gave her a lead of 216 points with two events left.

Thiam tried to recover in the javelin but, hampered by a long-standing elbow injury, walked off the track before her final throw having posted just 48.04m.

Johnson-Thompson’s new personal best of 43.93m gave her a virtually unassailable 137-point lead heading into the 800m.

She then completed the upset with a time of two minutes 07.26 seconds in the 800m.

The Team GB star followed in the footsteps of Jessica Ennis-Hill

Two personal bests in the 100m hurdles and shot put helped Johnson-Thompson to an overnight 96-point lead over Thiam.

Earlier, Laura Muir qualified for Saturday’s 1500m final with a run of four minutes 01.05 seconds to come third in her semi-final.

The 26-year-old has recovered from a torn calf which wrecked her preparations for Doha.

She said: “Everyone talks about the final but you have to actually get there first. These girls are fast, a 4:01 there for a semi-final, I’m really happy to run that time.

“I’m so happy to be back and am confident with my body. It is a good confidence boost, we’ve got a couple of days now. It’s gives me a lot of confidence knowing I can run that sort of time feeling comfortably.”

British trio of Jake Wightman, Josh Kerr and Neil Gourley also reached the men’s 1500m semi final.

Meanwhile, world record holder and defending champion Kevin Mayer of France pulled out of the decathlon injured and Bahrain’s Salwa Eld Naser won a surprise women’s 400m title.

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