Britain’s top multi-eventer, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, is confident she has reached a turning point in her career and can contend for world honours next season after finding a way to block the doubts that held her back.
On the basis of her impressive performances in winning a European heptathlon silver medal in Berlin this week, the odds are finally shortening on her one day finding a way past Nafi Thiam.
Johnson-Thompson’s personal best score of 6,759 points — just 57 down on Thiem, and well clear of Carolin Schafer in third — has raised expectations for the second half of this Tokyo 2020 Olympic cycle.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson took a silver medal on a promising night in Berlin for Team GB
The challenge for ‘KJT’ of actually beating Thiam, Belgium’s world and Olympic champion, is still daunting, of course. Thiam showed here that she is almost unflappable in the most heated moments of a championship.
But the fresh hope for Johnson-Thompson, 25, is that she never once looked like buckling psychologically, as she has done so often before. The Liverpool woman’s throws — 13.09 metres in the shot put and a javelin beyond 42 metres — show signs of progress.
She will go to the World Championships in Doha next year as a serious contender. Johnson-Thompson said last night: ‘I feel like I can do it. It has given me confidence going forward that I can be competitive. I feel like I can win.
Johnson-Thompson was narrowly edged out by Belgium opposition Nafissatou Thiam
‘I have been working on it for years and it has finally clicked. It has been going really well in training but I’ve never been able to get it out. ‘Some of my training throws were not good and I figured out how to change and that’s very important. It’s about not panicking. I feel it’s a turning point, that I’ve figured out how to do it.’
Johnson-Thompson’s performance in Berlin, on the back of golds at the world indoors and Commonwealth Games earlier this year, serves as a vindication of her move in 2016 to a new training team in Montpelier, France.
‘It is difficult to be away from my family but I can see why I am doing it,’ she said. I know I can progress to be the best with them. It is paying off.’
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