Katarina Johnson-Thompson says that the Olympics will be won and lost on who has handled the pandemic the best.

The Heptathlon World Champion was in terrific form heading into the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

She followed up her 2018 Commonwealth Games Gold medal with a Gold medal in the 2019 World Championships in Doha.

The now delayed games have wreaked havoc on athletes’ training, as the games were delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, the Liverpool athlete said: “All I can do is make sure I have the best prep.”

I thought I was ready to peak more going into Tokyo – that was always the plan,” said Johnson-Thompson.

“The timing was perfect. It just got halted, but that’s life.”

“Sport shouldn’t be based on anything but talent”.

The Liverpool athlete has set up an academy in the past year.  The KJT Academy aims to support county level state-schooled athletes from a diverse ethnic backgrounds in the North West of England.

“You think the Olympics is diverse, but I was surprised that a number of sports featured all white competitors,” she said. “I think there are people out there who could be in an Olympic team and could be winning a medal, but just haven’t had the right support along the way.”

The KJT Academy is also supported by the LFC Foundation.

Addressing the purpose of the academy to the BBC, she said: “Sport shouldn’t be based on what you look like, what circumstances you’ve got or how much money you’ve got”.

For me, sport in its essence is literally who can run the fastest from that line to that line and we’ll see if I can beat you”.

Ultimately, I am just a big kid, still doing that on an Olympic stage.”

Johnson-Thompson said she had been affected by prejudice in the past.

“I don’t think anyone has purposefully gone out of their way to be nasty,” she said. “It’s affected me in so many ways, regarding my self-worth, the way I grew up wanting to look a certain way… I felt like I had to change my hair and present it a certain way.

“When I look back, I changed things to try to blend in.”

Liverpool Harriers A.C

KJT hails from the Liverpool Harries Athletics Club based in Wavertree.

“This track hardened my character; it’s made me the athlete I am” – she told the BBC.

She currently splits her time between Montpellier in the South of France and her beloved city of Liverpool.

(Featured image courtesy of Flickr account L3o_ under Creative Commons Licence)

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