Katarina Johnson-Thompson relieved she kept faith in heptathlon

The world champion, who broke the British record on Thursday in Doha, almost quit the sport after previous disappointments.

By Press Association Published: 4 October 2019 - 4.00pm

New world champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson admitted she briefly considered quitting the heptathlon after previous heartbreak.

The 26-year-old took the title at the World Championships in Doha in a new British record on Thursday.

She beat Jessica Ennis-Hill’s old mark – which she set when winning gold at London 2012 – to post 6,981 points and shock defending champion Nafi Thiam.

It came after disappointments at the World Championships in 2015 and 2017 and the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Ennis-Hill admitted Johnson-Thompson questioned her future during the lap of honour in Rio but after her stunning victory in Doha the Liverpudlian is relieved she did not give up.

“It was probably in the moment at the time,” she said.

“I was fed up of this feeling, doing a victory lap or not doing a victory lap because I was injured and knowing my body could not respond.

“Or feeling my body couldn’t make it through one, or my performances aren’t up to scratch to compete.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson shows her dejection while waiting for media interviews at the 2017 World Championships
Johnson-Thompson’s dejection was obvious after her event at the 2017 championships in London (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“London 2017 was quite tough because I felt like I’d made the change, I moved to (train in) France and was doing everything I could in my power and it still didn’t pay off.

“But I’m quite stubborn and I just kept going. I didn’t want to give up on something that I believed in.

“I’m so happy I wasn’t crazy in thinking I could do this.”

Johnson-Thompson set personal bests in the 100m hurdles, javelin, shot put and long jump in a dominant performance.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson competes in the heptathlon long jump in Doha
The long jump provided one of several personal bests for Katarina Johnson-Thompson in Doha (Martin Rickett/PA)

Victory also set up a titanic battle in Tokyo at next year’s Olympics between Thiam and Johnson-Thompson.

It was Thiam’s first defeat since May 2016 and Johnson-Thompson expects Belgium’s reigning Olympic champion to come back stronger.

She said: “I’m in a great position – it’s the best position I’ve been in, gold medal, injury-free, national record – but I know what it’s like to finish second and what it’s like when you want to win and prove yourself.

“It will be a dangerous Nafi I will be competing against next year.

Nafi Thiam, left, and Katarina Johnson-Thompson
Nafi Thiam, left, had no response to Johnson-Thompson (Mike Egerton/PA)

“We have seen her compete in Talence this year and Gotzis the year before and she’s always on the brink of something special.

“I’m going to have to step up. She’s proved she can get 7,000 points and I expect her to do that next year.

“She looked like she was going to be unbeatable for a long time so maybe that’s the future and people will start to believe in themselves and think things are possible – which is great.”

Actress Jodie Comer, who Johnson-Thompson went to school with, also offered words of congratulations.

The Killing Eve star wrote on Instagram: “World champion right there!!!!!!! We couldn’t be prouder of you @johnsonthompson. Your hard work and dedication shows no limits. Soak it all up. You’re the best… it’s actually official. (always has been)! X”

On Comer, Johnson-Thompson added: “Jodie is smashing life completely. She’s an incredible actress and I’m so happy she’s getting recognition.”