This is the story of a young athlete, who at just 17 years old, has become the light, hope and inspiration to people around the world. In 2015, she became the youngest ever double World Champion in the sport of sprint hurdles. A year later, she became the youngest ever runner to win a World Championships title, winning 400m hurdles in Beijing. She also became the first woman to win a gold medal, and the youngest British athlete to win a medal at the World Championships.
Tokyo 2020 is inching ever closer, and the race between three of the world’s finest distance runners is heating up. Katarina Johnson-Thompson is the favorite, having placed third in Rio last year and winning the Great Edinburgh XC Challenge in 2017. The 29-year-old from Britain also won gold at the World Half Marathon Championships in 2017, and looks primed for another run at an Olympic title. Johnson-Thompson has endured many painful setbacks, which has resulted in much introspection about her life and her career. The good news is that Johnson-Thompson has managed to overcome her injuries.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson is a British track and field athlete who represents Great Britain in the heptathlon. At 23 years old, Johnson-Thompson is an established senior athlete with a lot of experience. She has competed for Great Britain at the Summer Olympic games in Sydney, Beijing, and London. She has also been a key member of the British team at the past 2 World Championships, where she finished in 3rd in the heptathlon. Her most recent Olympic appearance was at Rio 2016, where she finished 6th in the heptathlon.. Read more about tokyo 2020 olympics and let us know what you think.
Katarina Johnson-sliding Thompson’s doors moment was made possible by the bus system in south Liverpool.
She used to jump on at the age of ten to go the six miles from her house in Halewood to Liverpool Harriers’ Wavertree Park headquarters.
As a high jumper, she went there. Her ability was clear: she was tall and nimble, and she had smashed a 29-year-old school record on her first try.
Tracey, who would have liked her daughter to dance, sat unwillingly beside her as they rode through the suburbs of south Liverpool.
The high jump workout lasted an hour and a half. It didn’t take much longer than it did to get there. For just an hour, it seemed to be a nuisance.
If Katarina stayed for the jogging session after the high jump, it may have been worth the trip after all.
When she did, and shown that she could run as well as jump, a coach recalled an incident that brought them all together. Johnson-Thompson was on the right track.
That bus trip was just the beginning of Katarina and Tracey’s adventure, though they didn’t realize it at the time.
She boarded a National Express bus to Stoke for her first age-grade national championship when she was 13 years old.
Instead, at the age of 19, she was riding a tide of national passion, arriving in London 2012 as Jessica Ennis-heir Hill’s apparent.
It was a sharp and quick ascent.
Johnson-Thompson tells Sport, “I was one of the first competitors on the track – the heptathlon was on the first day.” “I was accustomed to competing in front of 40 people, but there were 80,000 people yelling for anybody in Team GB.”
“I was really trembling from excitement. I was having the time of my life; I had no expectations.”
Katarina Johnson-archive Thompson’s mother’s Before Rio 2016, Tracey sends her a letter.
That has since changed. The rate of development has slowed to a more typical level. The hype and anticipation, on the other hand, did not.
“Everyone was still watching the event since Jess was taking a break to deliver her first kid, but the star wasn’t there. I was under the impression that I would have to step in to fill those shoes “Johnson-Thompson recalls.
“I don’t believe I had those years of transition. I was pushed into the deep end, and I believe 2015 and 2016 were the two years in which I just couldn’t manage it.”
She fouled in each of her three long leaps at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, thus ending any chance of a medal. She changed her screensaver to a picture of her foot wandering beyond the take-off board after that disappointment. It served as a regular reminder to motivate her to do better.
But a year later, she was emotionally and physically exhausted when she arrived in Rio for the Olympics. Her doubts and self-doubt were fueled by a quad rupture and knee surgery, and she finished sixth.
“I’d be curious what the commentators were saying if I made a poor throw – I’m sure they’d be tearing into me,” she adds.
“When I was competing, I would constantly have this very poisonous negative voice whispering to me.”
Johnson-day Thompson’s in Beijing 2015 ended in tears.
“I suppose I believed a lot of the individuals who said these things.” It came to the point where I wondered whether I was a heptathlete.
“I was doing the same thing and receiving the same outcomes for the third year in a row in Rio,” he said.
Things had come to a halt. There has to be a change.
There was an alternative that was risk-free. To remain at home, 10 minutes away from Tracey, with the same coach she had since she was 15 years old. Perhaps she should concentrate on the high jump. It would be a complete reversal of events.
A veer into the unknown was the other choice.
If Katarina is a self-proclaimed ‘homebird,’ Tracey has already left the nest. She traveled to Paris alone as a teenager in the early 1980s, seeking for employment at the renowned Moulin Rouge cabaret.
“My mother was a showgirl, a can-can dancer,” Johnson-Thompson recalls.
“She has been traveling the globe since she was a child. It’s not how it used to be when it came to staying in contact with people. She had to leave home and send letters to my grandmother.”
In November 2016, daughter followed in her mother’s footsteps, packed her belongings for a trip to France, knowing that her ambitions could not be realized at home.
She leased a modest apartment in Montpellier, in the country’s south, and enlisted the help of coach Jean-Yves Cochand.
From the ground up, he overhauled her training and technique. The jumps have new run-ups, the throws have different body angles, and the sprints have a new focus on strength. Johnson-Thompson is moving away from a combination of hard workouts and rest days, favoring little and often.
But most significantly, he and other trainers Bertrand Valcin and Bruno Gajer helped her to alter her attitude.
Cochand told Johnson-Thompson that he had given her the moniker ‘Droopy’ because of her hangdog demeanor during competition. And something has to be done about it.
Johnson-Thompson didn’t understand French, but she soon learned what ‘C’est la vie’ meant.
“Bertrand is now my coach. When I see him relaxed in competition, it makes me feel relaxed as well “she explains.
“My French decathlete training buddy Kevin Meyer also has a very, extremely strong mentality.” He was the world champion when he arrived in Berlin for the European Championships in 2018, but he fouled three times in the long jump [the same mistake Johnson-Thompson made in Beijing in 2015].
“He approached the cameras and shrugged, saying, ‘It’s sport.’ These things happen because I wanted to deliver my best performance on the day.’
“Two months later, he smashed the decathlon world record, and the rest is history.”
“However, I went into hiding, going to my mother’s hotel and weeping all night.”
“I’d be torturing myself all the time for it.” I used to think about that every time I stepped onto a long jump runway until 2018 or 2019.
“I knew I had to leave Liverpool – and so did my mother – if I was going to reach where I wanted to go.”
For Johnson-Thompson, there was neither the fizzing exhilaration of 2012 nor the gloom and dread of 2016, as he prepared for the 2019 World Championships in Doha. Instead, he accepted himself and accepted that what would be would be.
“I was ready to go, and I was also prepared to lose,” she adds.
“I didn’t expect to win a medal because I knew I was in excellent condition to get a strong score, and I knew I was going to accomplish it regardless of how well anybody else did.”
With her victory in Doha, Johnson-Thompson now holds global championships at the youth, junior, and senior levels.
Johnson-Thompson defeated reigning champion and Olympic gold medalist Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium to become global champion and look down on the skeptics.
“The biggest feeling was relief,” she recalls, “because I now have this and if everything else fails, I have this.”
“There have been many instances when I didn’t believe and followed other people’s advice.”
From then, it seemed like the path to Tokyo and the greatest stage of all would be easy and straight. The Olympic heptathlon was set to begin ten months and one day after she won the world championships.
But then there were happenings. The Games were pushed back a year due to a worldwide epidemic. Johnson-Thompson injured her Achilles tendon in late December 2020. Worse, it was her take-off foot, which carries a lot of weight and requires full confidence when she competes in the long and high jumps.
Her injuries was on the verge of completely derailing her.
“I was heartbroken, and it could have gone one of two ways at one time,” she recalls, “but I’m happy it went in the greatest route for me.”
“It’s been a long and arduous journey, but I’m happy to be on the other side.”
She now has a new screensaver to aid her navigation. It’s from Liverpool, four miles from the conclusion of that bus ride and the start of her own.
It’s a picture of Liverpool’s football team, her team, celebrating in front of the Kop after a historic comeback against Barcelona.
“Liverpool is a big inspiration to me because it shows that comebacks are possible and that no one should be written off,” she adds.
She enters the Olympics under-prepared, but also under-appreciated. That enchanted, mysterious journey that began in Halewood may possibly culminate on the top step of the Tokyo podium.
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