World Athletics Championship: Katarina Johnson-Thompson wins heptathlon gold on historic night for Britain

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: World heptathlon champion
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: World heptathlon champion

Great Britain can celebrate a second historic night in the space of a remarkable 24 hours at the World Athletics Championships as Katarina Johnson-Thompson struck heptathlon gold.

The Liverpool star finally fulfilled her massive potential with her first outdoor medal at the highest level and did so in style with a new stunning national record of 6981 to overcome the defending world, Olympic and European champion Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium.

Johnson-Thompson's triumph comes hot on the heels of Dina Asher-Smith's historic 200m gold which means it's the first time two British women have topped the podium at a single World Championships.

Overall, the 26-year-old is becomes the nation's eighth different woman to win a world athletics gold following on from Fatima Whitbread (1987), Liz McColgan (1991), Sally Gunnell (1993), Paula Radcliffe (2005), Christine Ohuruogu (2009, '13), Jessica Ennis-Hill (2009, '11, '15) and, of course, Asher-Smith.

Johnson-Thompson now firmly steps out of the shadows of triple world champion and London 2012 heroine Ennis-Hill, who she's been widely expected to one day emulate as a global heptathlon star ever since finishing 13th on her senior debut at those unforgettable home Olympics.

A year later, aged 21, Johnson-Thompson further underlined her promise with a fifth placed finish at the World Championships but would go on to suffer heartache in the next three outdoor majors - including the Rio Olympics and two years ago in London - due largely to costly slip ups in single disciplines.

Weaker athletes would have struggled to bounce back from a these growing experiences of mental blocks but 2018 proved to be a turning point with world indoor pentathlon gold, the Commonwealth heptathlon title and a European silver medal behind the formidable Thiam.

The Liverpool Harriers athlete was second favourite heading to Doha but by the end of day one of competition at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, her glory bid was on track after opening up a 96-point lead over the defending champion with a score of 4,138.

She posted two personal bests in the 100m hurdles (13.09) and shot put (13.86) - one of her weaker events - while both rivals cleared 1.95 in the high jump before KJT ran a season's best of 23.08 in the 200m.

The momentum continued into the final day as a long jump of 6.77 pulled her 216 clear and that gap was only reduced to 137 - the equivalent of around 10 seconds in the 800m - when Thiam, who was struggling with her arm ahead of the javelin event that she's usually so strong in, could only throw a little over four metres further than Johnson-Thompson's personal best effort of 43.93.

The final event was therefore merely a formality in terms of the gold medal destination but the former world youth champion finished strongly as she broke Ennis-Hill's national record of 6955 with the sixth best score of all time and just misses out - by a mere 19 points - on becoming just the fifth heptathlete ever to break the 7000 barrier behind Jackie Joyner-Kersee (7291), Carolina Kluft (7032), Thiam (7013) and Larisa Nikitina (7007).

Johnson-Thompson, needing a time of 2:09.05 to eclipse Ennis-Hill's mark and 2:06.03 to reach 7000, powered down the home straight to clock 2:07.26, which was her fourth PB over the two days.

Thiam limped home in 2:18.93 to end up on 6677 points, with Austria's Verena Preiner taking bronze with a score of 6560.

See below for full points breakdown between KJT and Thiam

Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Nafissatou Thiam
Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Nafissatou Thiam

Heptathlon: Event-by-event points breakdown

  • Event One: 100m hurdles

KJT: 13.09 (PB) - 1111pts (Cumulative Total: 1111)
Thiam: 13.36 (SB) - 1071pts (Cumulative Total: 1071)

  • Event Two: High Jump

KJT: 1.95m - 1171pts (Cumulative Total: 2282)
Thiam: 1.95m - 1171pts (Cumulative Total: 2242)

Event Three: Shot Pot

KJT: 13.86 (PB) - 785pts (Cumulative Total: 3067)
Thiam: 15.22 - 876pts (Cumulative Total: 3118)

  • Event Four: 200m

KJT: 23.08 (SB) - 1071pts (Cumulative Total: 4138)
Thiam: 24.60 - 924pts (Cumulative Total: 4042)

  • Event Five: Long Jump

KJT: 6.77m - 1095pts (Cumulative Total: 5233)
Thiam: 6.40m - 974pts (Cumulative Total: 5017)

  • Event Six: Javelin

KJT: 43.93m (PB) - 743pts (Cumulative Points: 5976)
Thiam: 48.02m - 822pts (Cumulative Points: 5839)

  • Event Seven: 800m

KJT: 2:07.64 (PB) - 1005pts (Cumulative Points: 6981 PB)
Thiam: 2:18.93 (SB) - 838pts (Cumulative Points: 6677)

Third overall was Austria's Verena Preiner with a score of 6560.

Johnson-Thompson's timeline to glory

  • 2012 - Johnson-Thompson broke Jessica Ennis-Hill's British junior record in Desenzano del Garda with 6,007 points. She then came 14th at the London Olympics.
  • 2013 - At the World Championships in Moscow she came fifth to underline her potential and finished just 28 points behind third-placed Dafne Schippers.
  • 2014 - A foot injury ruined her chances at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the European Championships in Zurich but she did win gold at the Hypo-Meeting in Gotzis.
  • 2015 - The European Indoor pentathlon title was claimed in Prague but Johnson-Thompson suffered World Championships disaster in Beijing. She failed with all her long jump attempts and her chances collapsed. Having been second overnight, she came last out of the 28 who completed the competition.
  • 2016 - KJT went into the Rio Olympics not fully fit and even though she led after the first day, a poor javelin wrecked any chances and she came sixth. She did set a new high jump record of 1.98m - which would have won gold in the standalone competition in Brazil.
  • 2017 - A move to Montpellier was the catalyst for success but it took time. A poor high jump - seen as her best event - cost her at the World Championships in London. She was 18cm down on her personal best after only clearing 1.80m and eventually came fifth.
  • 2018 - A breakthrough year with the World Indoors pentathlon title arriving early in the year. Commonwealth Games heptathlon victory followed and she won European Championships silver in Berlin to meet her target of three medals.
  • 2019 - Victory at the Hypo-Meeting in Gotzis and a triumph in the European Indoors pentathlon in Glasgow were a prelude to Doha glory. A then personal best of 6,813 points in Gotzis would have been good enough to win gold in four of the past six Olympics.

Britain's female world champions

  • Fatima Whitbread - 1987

Fatima Whitbread improved on her 1983 silver at the first World Championships by winning the javelin in Rome.

She beat bitter rival Petra Felke with a throw of 76.64m to win Great Britain's only gold medal of the Championships.

Felke, though, hit back a year later and took Olympic gold with Whitbread second.

  • Liz McColgan - 1991

Three years after Olympic silver in the 10,000m in Seoul, Liz McColgan went one better at the World Championships in Tokyo.

It was one of two golds for Great Britain that year, along with the 4x400m relay squad.

Daughter Eilish won silver in the 5,000m for Great Britain at the European Championships last year.

  • Sally Gunnell - 1993

A year after her 400m hurdles victory at the Barcelona Olympics Sally Gunnell was winning gold again in style at the World Championships in Stuttgart.

She won in 52.74 seconds - setting a new world record which was broken two years later.

It remains the British record and gold was an improvement on the silver from Toyko in 1991, while Gunnell also won bronze in the 4x400m relay in Stuttgart.

  • Paula Radcliffe - 2005

Distance runner Paula Radcliffe won Britain's only gold medal of the World Championships in Helsinki when she took the marathon title.

She set a championship record time of two hours 20:57 minutes, which still stands.

It was a rare bright moment for Great Britain in Finland as they won just three medals.

  • Christine Ohuruogu - 2007 and 2013

Christine Ohuruogu won her first world title in 2007 just weeks after she completed a ban for missing three out-of-competition drug tests.

Despite running just five competitive races before the final she won Great Britain's only gold at the Championships.

She claimed a second gold in Moscow in 2013, setting a new British record with a time of 49.41s.

  • Jessica Ennis-Hill - 2009, 2011 and 2015

Heptathlon star Jessica Ennis-Hill took three world titles with her first crown in Berlin 10 years ago as she beat Jennifer Oeser of Germany by 238 points.

In 2011 in Daegu she originally finished second behind Tatyana Chernova but the Russian was disqualified for failing retrospective doping testing and in 2016 she was upgraded to a gold by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

A final title in Beijing came after she returned after having son Reggie in 2014.

  • Dina Asher-Smith - 2019

Johnson-Thompson won her gold just 24 hours after Dina Asher-Smith's 200m victory at the Khalifa International Stadium.

Asher-Smith, 23, had already banked a 100m silver medal on Sunday and was favourite for the 200m title.

She stormed to victory, breaking her previous British record, to win in 21.88 seconds.

Medals Won By Team GB at World Athletics Championships

Team GB have won 102 medals (24 golds, 34 silver & 38 bronze) at the World Athletics Championships since the first in 1983, so whoever gets them off the mark in Doha will have the honour of bringing up the century.

  • 1983: 7 (Two Golds: Steve Cram 1500m, Daley Thompson Decathlon)
  • 1987: 8 (One Gold: Fatima Whitbread javelin)
  • 1991: 7 (Two Golds: Liz McColgan 10,000m, Men's 4x400m relay)
  • 1993: 10 (Three Golds: Linford Christie 100m, Colin Jackson 110m hurdles, Sally Gunnell 400m hurdles)
  • 1995: 5 (One Gold: Jonathan Edwards triple jump)
  • 1997: 6 (One Gold: Men's 4x400m relay)
  • 1999: 7 (One Gold: Colin Jackson 110m hurdles)
  • 2001: 2 (One Gold: Jonathan Edwards triple jump)
  • 2003: 3 (No Golds)
  • 2005: 3 (One Gold: Paula Radcliffe marathon)
  • 2007: 6 (One Gold: Christine Ohuruogu)
  • 2009: 7 (Two Golds: Phillips Idowu triple jump, Jessica Ennis-Hill heptathlon)
  • 2011: 8 (Three Golds: Mo Farah 5000m, Dai Greene 400m hurdles, Jessica Ennis-Hill heptathlon)
  • 2013: 7 (Three Golds: Mo Farah 5000m & 10000m, Christine Ohuruogu 400m)
  • 2015: 7 (Three Golds: Mo Farah 5000m & 10000m, Greg Rutherford long jump, Jessica Ennis-Hill heptathlon)
  • 2017: 6 (Two Golds: Mo Farah 10000m, Men's 4x100m relay)
  • 2019: 2 (Two Golds: Dina Asher-Smith 200m, Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon)

World Athletics links

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