Katarina Johnson-Thompson ends ‘tough week’ with Commonwealth Games gold

Katarina Johnson-Thompson dedicated her first heptathlon title for three years to her late grandmother after successfully defending her Commonwealth Games crown.

The 29-year-old triumphed with 6377 points ahead of Northern Ireland’s Kate O’Connor who took silver and England team-mate Jade O’Dowda in third in Birmingham.

It is Johnson-Thompson’s first victory since winning the world title in 2019 having recovered from two serious injuries and she paid tribute to her grandmother Mary, who died last month.

katarina johnson-thompson ends ‘tough week’ with commonwealth games gold

Katarina Johnson-Thompson won after enduring a difficult 18 months (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)

“She unfortunately passed away a couple of days after I returned from Eugene so it’s been a tough week so I’m just happy to get through it,” she said.

“It’s been particularly hard because the last champs at Glasgow indoors she was here so it was quite hard not to see her face in the crowd.

“I’ve done three heptathlons this year, I’m just happy to get through and healthy. Hopefully this’ll be a stepping stone for me like it was in 2018 for better things to come next year.

“It wasn’t about the points, it was about being competitive, trying to find my third attempt response that I used to have which I didn’t have in the last couple of heptathlons I’ve done. So, I’m so happy for many different reasons.”

A ruptured Achilles threatened her Olympic dream last year and, even though she made it to Tokyo, she suffered a serious calf injury in the 200m and had to withdraw.

Her injury nightmare meant she was unable to defend her world title in Eugene last month, finishing eighth, as Nafi Thiam reclaimed the crown after losing to Johnson-Thompson in Doha in 2019.

But at the Alexander Stadium she ended her wait for a win.

Johnson-Thompson held an overnight lead and clung on to a 122-point advantage after the long jump on Wednesday morning.

katarina johnson-thompson ends ‘tough week’ with commonwealth games gold

Katarina Johnson-Thompson produced a javelin PB (Martin Rickett/PA) (PA Wire)

She then consolidated her lead with a stunning personal best of 44.33m in the javelin, one of her weaker events, to leave her on the verge of gold.

“The javelin’s my first PB in three years so I’m really happy with that. I’m not in shape,” she said.

“I’m not in the best shape I can be so I didn’t expect any personal bests. I wanted to get through with solid performances so that was unexpected but a nice surprise.”

It gave her a 136-point advantage over O’Connor heading into the final 800m and she ran two minutes 13.93 seconds to finish second in the race and comfortably claim overall victory.

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