Katarina Johnson-Thompson reflected back on an “unbelievable” couple of weeks, after securing a record-breaking first World Championship gold medal and being nominated for IAAF World Athlete of the Year.
The Liverpool Heptathlete broke Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill’s British points record of 6955, finishing the event on 6981 and claiming PBs in both the 100m hurdles (13.09s) and shotput (13.86m) in the process.
The Liverpool Harriers graduate puts her success down to finding the best method of mental preparation for her.
She said: “For once all year I’ve had this calm sense of ‘what will be, will be’. I feel like everyone’s journey is different. That’s the difference for me, as long as I try my best it doesn’t matter what place I come, and it worked out.”
Despite her lofty potential, Johnson-Thompson suffered anguish at Rio 2016 when a poor shot put and javelin performances cost her a medal, and an ill-timed injury kept her out of the 2014 European Championships in Zurich.
It’s fair to say she has had more than her share of career lows. However, she believes that her past failures have made her the successful athlete that she is today.
She said: “I feel like they’ve set me up to have this medal, but watching it back, and feeling how I felt back then, it’s like I just felt calmer and prepared to come second. I think it’s years of knowing that I’ve been through everything bad that could possibly happen.
“At the Rio Olympics 2016, They were some of the worst moments of my life and I’ve got through it, moved on and I’m still the person I am now despite my performances that day.”
The heptathlete has been earmarked as Jessica Ennis-Hill’s successor on the world stage for years, but when Ennis-Hill crossed the line in London 2012, Johnson-Thompson never would have been believed that she’d surpass her idol’s record.
She said: “Jess was so happy for me. She told me to enjoy the moment and really try to take it all in.”
Next year brings a busy year for athletics, not the least with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on the horizon. KJT aims to maintain her good form during the build up to the Olympics, and believes she is in good shape to use her new-found confidence to claim more medals.
She said: “I’m excited to be back at the Olympics. It’s obviously a big year and I’m so happy that I’m in the position I’m in today. I’m doing three different British meets next year, starting with the Glasgow indoors and then the anniversary games.”
“I have the ability, but to win in sport it doesn’t mean that it always happens at the time. This is my journey and 26 years old is still a decent age to continue and go on.”
There doesn’t seem to any ceiling for Katarina Johnson-Thompson, and as an athlete at the top of her game, she won’t be happy with anything less than gold at Tokyo 2020.
Photo by filip bossuyt, under Creative Commons license