Katarina Johnson-Thompson sets new British record as she claims heptathlon gold

The 26-year-old took the world heptathlon crown on Thursday in Doha.

By Press Association Published: 3 October 2019 - 10.27pm

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.

Johnson-Thompson admitted winning the world title had felt like a dream.

She said: “It doesn’t make sense to me honestly. These whole two days have been so fast and because it has been at night, it’s actually felt like a dream. Doing it under the lights and everything was unbelievable.

“I can’t believe this is the result. I have had so many attempts at this result so to perform on this stage makes me so happy.”

Katarina Johnson-Thompson's victory in Doha sent out a warning to her rivals ahead of the Olympics
Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s victory in Doha sent out a warning to her rivals ahead of the Olympics (Martin Rickett/PA)

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 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.

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.

Johnson-Thompson comes to terms with her win
Johnson-Thompson comes to terms with her win (Martin Rickett/PA)

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

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.

Laura Muir is in the 1500m final
Laura Muir is in the 1500m final (MIke Egerton/PA)

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.