Katarina Johnson-Thompson recovers well from shaky start in Budapest heptathlon

By Sports Desk August 19, 2023

Katarina Johnson-Thompson recovered from a nervous heptathlon opening on the first morning of the World Championships.

The 2019 world champion sits fourth after a delayed start at the National Athletics Centre in Budapest.

A storm postponed the action by an hour and forced Johnson-Thompson to wait but she struggled in the first event.

The 30-year-old ran 13.50 seconds in her 100m hurdles heat, well behind the American trio of Taliyah Brooks, Anna Hall and Chari Hawkins.

Before her Achilles rupture in 2020, Johnson-Thompson had run a personal best of 13.09 seconds – en route to winning the world title in 2019 – and clocked a season’s best of 13.34 seconds at the British Championships last month.

She entered the high jump at 1.77m, clearing at the first attempt, before eventually leaping 1.80m on her third jump to settle the nerves.

A clearance of 1.86m left her second in the high jump and fourth overall with 2104 points – 41 adrift of leader Hall – with the shot put and 200m to come in the evening session in Hungary.

Great Britain captain Laura Muir, who has endured a disrupted year after splitting from long-term coach Andy Young in March, was second in her 1500m heat.

She clocked four minutes 03.50 seconds behind the Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan.

Kenya’s defending champion Faith Kipyegon remains the overwhelming favourite and won her heat in four minutes 02.62 seconds.

Great Britain’s Katie Snowden and Melissa Courtney-Bryant also progressed to Sunday’s semi final.

Muir said: “Job done, I wanted to qualify with as little drama as possible.

“I was a little disappointed we weren’t in the rain. I would have been happy to crack on but I know there’s a lot of electrical equipment and technical equipment and the rain doesn’t suit everybody.

“It’s a fast track, I think it’ll be an exciting champs. As soon as I did a couple of strides it felt nice. There’s always a bit of scrapping and spiking but I felt comfortable.

“I saw Sifan go past and I was expecting that but I was scared she would go and everyone would come. I kept looking up and saw there was a gap.”

Jazmin Sawyers, the European indoor champion, finished 22nd in qualifying to miss out on the long jump final with a best of just 6.41m.

The 4x400m mixed relay quartet of Joe Brier, Laviai Nielsen, Rio Mitcham and Yemi Mary John reached Saturday night’s final in three minutes 11.19 seconds.

Nielsen said: “It was fast and loud, so I think that gave us an extra lift. We have all been itching to go so we are pleased with how we have performed as a team.”

Zharnel Hughes, the fastest man in the world this year, runs in the 100m heats in the evening with Reece Prescod and Eugene Amo-Dadzie.

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