Katarina Johnson-Thompson boosted by Gatehead showing ahead of Tokyo Olympic Games

·3-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Katarina Johnson-Thompson says she is confident she is moving in the right direction ahead of the Olympics after stepping up her injury comeback at the British Grand Prix in Gateshead.

The 28-year-old won the world heptathlon title in 2019 but suffered a ruptured Achilles during the winter and has hardly competed this season, with the Tokyo Games now just weeks away.

Competing in the long jump, Johnson-Thompson managed a modest, by her standards, best attempt of 6.10 metres to finish in eighth place, but she emerged healthy and knowing what she now needs to do in the lead-up to her event.

Johnson-Thompson said: “That proves that I’m 100 per cent fit. I only got one no-jump. It’s proved I’ve made big strides and that I can come out and do the full five jumps off my full approach.

“Hopefully over the coming weeks, I can work on my technique a bit more and the distance will come in Tokyo, I’m sure.”

Johnson-Thomson opened with 6.07 and improved by a centimetre in the third round before finishing with her longest jump, but it was not the numbers which mattered on the night.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

She said: “I didn’t know what to expect. It was all about the feeling, I was about trying to get on to the board, it was about getting back to my 19-stride run-up.

“I’ve been 100 per cent fit and that was the first time that I went off that run-up since maybe Doha, so I know that I can handle it and that my body can handle it. Now I just have to think about what to do when I actually take off.

She added with a smile: “It sounds so simple, I know.”

Asked about her goals for Tokyo, where she will renew her battle with Nafi Thiam, she replied: “My goals are always the same. My goals are to get to the start line confident and healthy, and I’m slowly getting there, for sure.”

It proved a positive night too for British pole vaulter Holly Bradshaw, who finished second to American Sandi Morris, but cleared a significant hurdle in her own mind.

Bradshaw set a new British record at 4.90m in Manchester last month and admitted she has struggled in the aftermath.

She said: “I didn’t realise how much it hit me, really. But it was a massive moment in my career and it just took a lot out of me physically and mentally, and then because I’d jumped 4.90m, I got a bit ahead of myself.

“I think I’ve lost sight of some of the basics, which is really important in pole vault. I’ve been trying to bully a big pole to just clear a big bar because that’s he lazy way to do it.

“But I managed to break through the storm and I feel like the back end of the comp, I found my jump, I found my confidence again and I’m really happy.”

It proved an emotional night for 34-year-old twice former European 400m champion Martyn Rooney, who finished seventh in his final major race.

Rooney said: “It’s the last big race for me and I would have loved to have seen the crowd full like Wimbledon or Wembley, but I’ve enjoyed it.

“Thanks for all the people who have pushed me along in my career, even if it has been negative. They have kept me honest and all the support has just driven me on.”

Additional reporting by PA.

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