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It made amends for a sluggish start by the defending champion in the opening event at the Commonwealth Games, the 100-metre hurdles.
But after the first four events, she leads on 3765 points, more than 100 points clear of Northern Ireland’s Kate O’Connor in second on 3656 and Australian Taneille Crase third on 3604.
The field will round off the two days of action with the long jump, javelin and 800m for what is habitually a weaker second day for Johnson-Thompson
The 29-year-old’s progress since winning a first world title in Doha in 2019 has been curtailed by injury. A torn Achilles put her participation in the Tokyo Olympics in doubt and, although she took to the start line at those Games last summer, she pulled out midway through with a calf injury.
Johnson-Thompson admitted she had been struggling to return to her best in both the high jump and long jump, traditionally her best two events, in the wake of her Achilles issues.
But she came through the World Athletics Championships in Eugene a few days ago injury free having finished in eighth place.
Among her rivals for gold in Birmingham is English teammate Mills, who opted to forego the Worlds in order to focus solely on the Commonwealths. Mills had a strong start in the hurdles to move herself into second behind Crase as Johnson-Thompson was sluggish out of the blocks.
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Her time of 13.83seconds was three tenths of a second off her season’s best and some way off her all-time best of 13.09. It still gave her 1,003points with seven events remaining.
But she made amends in an up-and-down high jump competition. She needed three clearances at 1.81metres but made it over at the third attempt despite clipping the bar with her trailing leg.
The clearance and the reaction of a packed Alexander Stadium seemed to spark her into action and she went over 1.84m at the first time of asking. But she could not manage any higher, some way off her British record of 1.98m but a season’s best to more than double her points tally.
And there was a second season’s best in her opening throw of the shot put competition of 12.94m, which she could not improve on.
Hopes of a hat-trick of season’s bests in the 2022 were denied but her time of 23.70s was more than a second clear of the rest of the field to give her a commanding overnight lead.