World pentathlon champion wins first major heptathlon title, while her teenage England team-mate Niamh Emerson has PB performance for bronze
Katarina Johnson-Thompson added the Commonwealth heptathlon title to the world indoor pentathlon gold she won in March to become the first combined events athlete to win both titles in the same year.
Scoring 6255 points for her first major heptathlon title, the 25-year-old finished 122 points ahead of Canada’s Nina Schultz, while her teenage England team-mate Niamh Emerson claimed bronze after a PB performance.
Managing a leg injury, Johnson-Thompson clocked 2:21.24 for the final event – the 800m – and later described the day as “emotional”.
“I’m so happy to finish the heptathlon, it is a relief to complete all the events. You have your ups and downs,” she said.
“I haven’t set the world alight with my performances but I’m so proud of myself that I came here in April – these are all season openers and season’s bests off not a lot of training after Birmingham.
“I’m happy that I’ve come here, I’ve been competitive, got a gold medal – the second one of the year – and I have 16 weeks now to try and build on this and get ready for the Europeans. That was always the plan.”
Johnson-Thompson had opened her campaign with 13.54 for the 100m hurdles and then cleared 1.87m in the high jump to lead with 2111 points ahead of Schultz with 2084 at the end of the first morning.
Later that day, Johnson-Thompson added a 11.54m shot put and 23.56 200m to her scoresheet for a 3765-point tally, dropping to third after the shot put but moving back up to lead at the end of the first day. Schultz was second on 3639 points, while Emerson was fourth with 3568 behind Australia’s Celeste Mucci, who had been top after the first event with the quickest hurdles time.
Johnson-Thompson started day two with a leading 6.50m in the long jump, choosing to pass her final attempt, and threw 40.46m from her single javelin attempt for a 174-point lead ahead of Schultz – 5448 points to 5274. Emerson was fourth after first recording a javelin PB of 39.91m and then further improving to 40.34m.
Emerson went quickest overall in the 800m, clocking 2:12.18 ahead of Schultz with a PB of 2:17.40 to secure silver with 6133 points.
Emerson’s strong final event moved the 18-year-old up into the medals with 6043 points to add 30 points to her previous best set when finishing fourth at the European U20 Championships last summer. Mucci finished fourth with a 5915-point PB.
“I’m really happy,” Emerson said. “I did want to medal and I set my sights to medal but there’s a difference between wanting to get a medal and executing and doing it, so I’m really relieved and happy.
“It’s really nice having Kat there because obviously she has done this a million times and is obviously an inspiration, so that’s really cool.”
Emerson looks set to ensure that England’s fine tradition in the heptathlon continues and on that prospect, she added: “I just need to keep going and getting more PBs, I guess!”
Northern Ireland’s 17-year-old Kate O’Connor placed eighth with 5695 points, two places ahead of Scotland’s 18-year-old Holly McArthur with 5381 points.
After a fall in the hurdles at the start of the competition, England’s Katie Stainton went on to jump 1.72m in the high jump but withdrew ahead of the shot put.
» See the April 12 and 19 editions of AW magazine for in-depth event-by-event coverage from the Gold Coast Games