The heptathlete showed no ill-effects of last year’s World Championships disappointment in her last competition before the Rio Olympics
If the demons from Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s wretched Beijing World Championships still remain then the heptathlete did a remarkably good job at suppressing them in the Olympic Stadium over the course of the past two days.
Entering her final competition 19 days before she launches her bid to steal away the in-form Jessica Ennis-Hill’s Olympic title, Johnson-Thompson could hardly have hoped for a more satisfying outcome at the Müller Anniversary Games. Producing an outdoor lifetime best 1.95m high jump on Friday night in front of a heated crowd high on the fever of Usain Bolt’s presence, she followed that up with a 6.84m season’s best in the long jump.
Ever more satisfying will be the fact that the two events were those with which she wrestled for consistency in Beijing. The high jump, in which she came close to no-heighting at 1.80m, she clung on to before recording three no-jumps in the long jump, putting paid to what she hoped would be her ascent to the top of the world’s multi-eventers.
To nail both events less than three weeks before Rio leaves the 23-year-old ideally placed. “I just needed some practice in both events,” Johnson-Thompson said, having last competed in the disciplines in Gotzis nearly two months ago.
“If I’d done the hurdles that would’ve been embarrassing for me. The high jump and long jump are my strongest events. They’re the ones I wanted to do and nail down. I’m glad I can go into Rio and not worry about both of them.”
In fact, Johnson-Thompson is in frighteningly good form and if it weren’t for her being “chronically indecisive” as a heptathlete she could be headed to Rio in any of three individual events.
Currently ranked UK No.1 in the high jump, the furthest outdoor long jumper in the country in 2016 and second in the 200m ranking with a 22.79 personal best from Gotzis, it’s fair to say the Liverpudlian is well and truly ready for Rio.
“I just want to make sure I put everything together. I know I can do it. Those two events, they’re what I always put on my scorecard. I know I can do it. It’s just about consistency,” Johnson-Thompson added.
“I’ve just got to go home, work on the other events. Can’t forget about them. And just hope I head into Rio with no injuries. I came out of that brilliant. I feel like when I’m 100% healthy I can do anything.”
If Johnson-Thompson had a near-perfect two days of performances, her compatriot and current world heptathlon No.2 Ennis-Hill endured a mixed couple of days as she pulled out her second best ever 100m hurdles time on Friday (12.76) but followed that with a tepid showing in the long jump, producing a 6.19m best effort having leaped to a 6.63m personal best in Ratingen last month.
While Ennis-Hill has been keen to downplay the ‘favourite’ tag hung around her neck by many since the 6733-point showing in Germany, Johnson-Thompson had no hesitation in piling the pressure on the defending champion.
“Yes, I do,” Johnson-Thompson responded when asked whether she thinks Ennis-Hill is the number one contender. “She’s done consistent scores in all her single events. She’s a championship performer and defending champ. Behind her is Brianne (Theisen-Eaton), winning the indoors, she got that 6,8 last year. It’s really tough competition. It’s not going to be easy.”