Former world youth champion takes down Jessica Ennis’s British junior heptathlon record in Italy
Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Kelly Sotherton went to the Multistars combined events competition in Desenzano del Garda, Italy, from different ends of the spectrum, but seeking the same goal – Olympic qualification.
At just 19 years old, 2009 world youth heptathlon champion Johnson-Thompson has boundless potential and was set for a big improvement on her previous best. 35-year-old Sotherton, meanwhile, was making a return to combined events after a four-year hiatus, having made a temporary switch to the 400m, and was hoping to just do enough to achieve the Olympic ‘A’ standard of 6150.
Having torrential downpours to contend with, both their campaigns ended in some sort of disappointment, but Johnson-Thompson could at least take some comfort in her big PB of 6007 points, smashing the national junior record of 5910 set seven years ago by 2009 world champion Jessica Ennis.
Sotherton, meanwhile, can draw few positives from her experience after she pulled up injured during the 200m, the final event of the first day, having performed below her best in the first three events. The former Commonwealth champion had been battling an injury over the past few months but had hoped to be in good enough form to complete a heptathlon.
Johnson-Thompson enjoyed a superb first day of competition as she set three PBs in the first four events. She ran a lifetime best of 13.68 in the 100m hurdles, followed by 1.81m in the high jump – the only slight disappointment as she cleared 1.88m just two months ago – but set further PBs of 11.75m in the shot and 23.78 in the 200m. Despite being one of the youngest in the field, her day-one score of 3662 gave her the overnight lead.
Before disaster struck in the 200m, Sotherton, the bronze medallist at the 2004 Olympics and 2007 World Championships, began with 13.96 in the 100m hurdles – her slowest since 2003 – and followed it with 1.72m in the high jump, 16cm below her best, and 12.98m in the shot, more than a metre-and-a-half off her PB.
The weather on day two was even worse and ultimately scuppered Johnson-Thompson’s attempt to achieve the A standard. She leapt 6.15m in the long jump, some 29cm below her PB, and despite the heavy downpour she followed it with a 37.17m throw in the javelin and a 2:18.89 run over 800m. It brought her points tally to 6007 – a 220-point improvement on her previous best – to finish third behind Sofia Ifadidou of Greece (6109) and Blandine Maisonnier of France (6082).
Johnson-Thompson’s British team-mates performed solidly. Louise Wood, boosted by a 13.24 PB in the 100m hurdles, finished 11th with a score of 5443 – just 41 points shy of her wind-legal PB. Phylis Agbo was 13th (5365) and junior Katy Marchant, a training partner of Ennis, was 18th with 5144.
In the men’s decathlon competition, former world and Olympic bronze medallist Dmitriy Karpov of Kazakhstan was a comfortable winner with 8172 – his best score for four years. Britain’s Ashley Bryant finished second with a UK-leading score of 7689, falling short of the Olympic B standard of 7950. John Lane set a PB of 7399 in fifth, while Commonwealth bronze medallist Martin Brockman withdrew from the competition with three events remaining.