World Athletics Championships: Hepathlon winner Katarina Johnson-Thompson admits she almost quit

Katarina Johnson-Thompson

New world champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson admitted she briefly considered quitting the heptathlon after previous heartbreak.

The 26-year-old took the title at the World Championships in Doha in a new British record on Thursday.

She beat Jessica Ennis-Hill's old mark - which she set when winning gold at London 2012 - to post 6,981 points and shock defending champion Nafi Thiam.

It came after disappointments at the World Championships in 2015 and 2017 and the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Ennis-Hill admitted Johnson-Thompson questioned her future during the lap of honour in Rio but after her stunning victory in Doha the Liverpudlian is relieved she did not give up.

"It was probably in the moment at the time," she said.

"I was fed up of this feeling, doing a victory lap or not doing a victory lap because I was injured and knowing my body could not respond.

"Or feeling my body couldn't make it through one, or my performances aren't up to scratch to compete.

"London 2017 was quite tough because I felt like I'd made the change, I moved to (train in) France and was doing everything I could in my power and it still didn't pay off.

"But I'm quite stubborn and I just kept going. I didn't want to give up on something that I believed in.

"I'm so happy I wasn't crazy in thinking I could do this."

Johnson-Thompson set personal bests in the 100m hurdles, javelin, shot put and long jump in a dominant performance.

Victory also set up a titanic battle in Tokyo at next year's Olympics between Thiam and Johnson-Thompson.

It was Thiam's first defeat since May 2016 and Johnson-Thompson expects Belgium's reigning Olympic champion to come back stronger.

She said: "I'm in a great position - it's the best position I've been in, gold medal, injury-free, national record - but I know what it's like to finish second and what it's like when you want to win and prove yourself.

"It will be a dangerous Nafi I will be competing against next year.

"We have seen her compete in Talence this year and Gotzis the year before and she's always on the brink of something special.

"I'm going to have to step up. She's proved she can get 7,000 points and I expect her to do that next year.

"She looked like she was going to be unbeatable for a long time so maybe that's the future and people will start to believe in themselves and think things are possible - which is great."

Actress Jodie Comer, who Johnson-Thompson went to school with, also offered words of congratulations.

The Killing Eve star wrote on Instagram: "World champion right there!!!!!!! We couldn't be prouder of you @johnsonthompson. Your hard work and dedication shows no limits. Soak it all up. You're the best... it's actually official. (always has been)! X"

On Comer, Johnson-Thompson added: "Jodie is smashing life completely. She's an incredible actress and I'm so happy she's getting recognition."

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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