Britain’s top junior heptathlete will chase the Olympic ‘A’ standard this weekend in Kladno
At the Multistars meeting last month, Katarina Johnson-Thompson smashed her heptathlon PB by 220 points to break Jessica Ennis’s UK junior record. But the Liverpool teenager says she can add even more points to her tally – enough to achieve the Olympic A standard.
The 2009 world youth champion led overnight at the Multistars competition in Desenzano del Garda, and although she finished a respectable third with a PB of 6007, a below-par performance in both the high jump and long jump – usually her strongest events – scuppered her chances of achieving the 6150 Olympic A standard.
Big PBs in the 100m hurdles (13.68), 200m (23.78) and shot contributed to her lifetime best score, but after leaping 32cm shy of her PB in the long jump and being seven centimetres below her best in the high jump, Johnson-Thompson says that there is room for improvement when she goes after the Olympic A standard again this weekend at the TNT Fortuna meeting in the Czech city of Kladno.
“I was so disappointed I didn’t get the qualifying mark in Italy, really, really disappointed,” said the 19-year-old. “I can be really hard on myself and unless I set a PB, I’m normally quite down. But then people reminded me that it was a national junior record and a big PB so it picked me up a bit and that was a confidence boost.
“There’s definitely more there,” she added. “I just need to put them all together in one heptathlon.”
Johnson-Thompson currently leads the 2012 world junior rankings in the heptathlon and she would be favoured to win a medal in that event at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona, but her priority this year is the Olympics.
Instead, she intends to compete in individual events at the World Juniors, although she will have difficulty deciding which one as she has qualified in four different events – 100m hurdles, long jump, high jump and 200m.
Johnson-Thompson, who also smashed the UK indoor junior pentathlon record earlier this year with 4526, has been one of the most prodigious talents in the country ever since breaking the UK under-17 heptathlon record in 2008. Her progress has continued across the board this year, and she credits her coach.
“Mike Holmes is a really intelligent man and he’s able to pick up any event and help me improve,” she says. “In the hurdles I’ve worked on my lead leg and my arms, and I’m now closer to the hurdles. My speed in general has also improved.”
Had Johnson-Thompson been close to her PBs in the jumping events in Italy, she would have been just shy of 6200 points. The weather didn’t help either, although she is keen to set the record straight on that front.
“The conditions in Italy were good on the first day until the 200m, and good again on the second day until the 800m,” she explains. “I was sitting waiting for the 800m and it started pouring down, so I tweeted a picture of the track. All of a sudden everyone was saying ‘look at the conditions that she performed in’, but I actually had good weather for most of the other events. I now know the full force of twitter.”