Katarina Johnson-Thompson eyes medal after moving up to second in Budapest

By Sports Desk August 19, 2023

Katarina Johnson-Thompson refused to get carried away despite remaining in gold medal contention at the World Championships.

The 2019 world heptathlon champion sits second, 93 points adrift of leader Anna Hall, after the first day in Budapest.

She still faces a battle to return to the global podium with the United States’ Chari Hawkins just five points behind and team-mate Taliyah Brooks a further 13 points adrift.

But, after an Achilles rupture in 2020, Johnson-Thompson remains cautiously optimistic.

She said: “I’m just seeing what I can do. Who would have predicted today?

“Sport is so unpredictable and especially heptathlon. That’s why I don’t like trying to think about what’s going to happen in the future. I’m just trying to take each event as it comes.

“It’s really close behind me as well. All I need to do is just keep knocking on the door, stay in the flow and who knows what can happen?

“I just want a medal. I’m definitely in amongst it.”

A storm postponed the action by an hour in the morning and forced Johnson-Thompson to wait.

The 30-year-old ran 13.50 seconds in her 100 metres hurdles heat, before clearing 1.86m in the high jump.

It left her fourth overall with 2104 points – 41 adrift of leader Hall – before the evening session.

A best of 13.64m in the shot put dropped her to joint fifth before victory in her 200m heat in 23.48s boosted her medal hopes heading into the second day.

She added: “Today has been one of the most gruelling days of heptathlon I’ve ever experienced. We are all feeling it and we’re all talking to each other and asking, why are we so tired?

“I think it was the delay, waking up at six, warming up and then being told ‘no, stop.'”

Zharnel Hughes, the fastest man in the world this year, clocked 10 seconds in his 100m heat ahead of Sunday’s semi-finals and final.

Hughes, the British 100m and 200m record holder, won his race while Reece Prescod, who pulled out of the relay squad earlier this week, qualified in third in his heat.

Eugene Amo-Dadzie, an accountant who is due back to work once the Championships finish, was second in his heat on his Great Britain debut.

The 31-year-old has taken annual leave to compete in Budapest and returns to work as a senior management accountant for property developer Berkeley Group on August 29.

“I’m on the world stage. I say to people who don’t really know track and field ‘I’m at the World Cup of athletics’ and they’re like ‘OK’,” he said, after running 10.10s.

“For me, that’s incredible because this is beyond a dream. I didn’t grow up dreaming to do this but, by the grace of God, I found myself doing this.

“I’ve had a lot of support from all the different accountant bodies. They’re like ‘yo, you’re putting accountants on the map’. We’re not just these boring stiff squares sat at the office typing away.”

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 in the morning session.

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 4:02.62.

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.”

In the men’s 1500m Josh Kerr, who won Olympic bronze in Tokyo, Neil Gourley and Elliot Giles all reached Sunday’s semis, with last year’s world champion Jake Wightman out with injury.

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.

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