Careers for athletes will not be linear equations. They’ve highs, lows, and typically, plateaus. Stuart Weir, the senior author for Europe, helps us put Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s trials and tribulations in perspective. She simply defended her CG title from Gold Coast 2018.
KJT Shifting in the precise route
Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s victory within the Commonwealth Video games with 6,377 factors won’t precisely have her rivals on the world stage quaking, nevertheless it represents excellent news and hopefully brings to an finish a troublesome interval in her profession. In 2019, she gained the world championship in Doha with 6,981 factors, lastly fulfilling the promise which had seen her come shut at earlier championships the place she had not fairly managed to ship throughout all disciplines.
I wrote in 2019: “In 2018, KJT was World Indoor and Commonwealth Champion in addition to European silver medallist. She has had the potential to medal at a world occasion for a while, nevertheless it simply by no means fairly labored out. Within the 2015 World Championships, she was in second place when she had three fouls within the lengthy bounce – her strongest occasion. For the file, she disputed one of many fouls, which was actually marginal at greatest. She was sixth within the Rio Olympics and fifth within the 2017 World Championships, let down by a poor excessive bounce, one other of her actually robust occasions”.
In 2016, she made a courageous determination to go away Mike Holmes, who had coached her since 2008, to affix Bertrand Valcin’s group in Southern France partly as a result of she needed to coach alongside Kevin Mayer. When Valcin accepted a senior position with French Observe and Discipline, his contract precluded teaching any athletes apart from French, leaving KJT with out a coach. She opted for Petros Kyprianou in Florida, just for that relationship to finish abruptly this season. Not too long ago she returned to the UK, the place she now divides her time between Loughborough and her native Liverpool, saying that the atmosphere within the USA “simply wasn’t working for me on the market, which is a disgrace. However finally, I’ve to do what’s proper for me, and I imagine that is what it’s.”
She ruptured an Achilles tendon in late 2020, recovering sufficiently to make the Olympics however ruining any actual hope she had of including an Olympic title to her resume. Within the Tokyo Olympics, she was unable to complete the competitors, pulling up within the 200m.
Chatting with the British media earlier than Oregon, she mentioned: “It’s troublesome as a result of the Achilles rupture was on my left ankle, which is my take-off leg for prime bounce and lengthy bounce. “Excessive bounce, I don’t really feel prefer it’s been too affected; I’ve nonetheless received spring there since you simply stick your leg out. However the lengthy bounce is the principle level during which I’m discovering it troublesome to get again to these lengthy jumps, which finally put collectively a giant rating for me.
“That being mentioned, the heptathlon could be put collectively in so many various methods. I really feel like my velocity is again, and I hope with age comes good energy within the shot put and the javelin as properly. If sure occasions get stronger, I might be shut. However I’m reasonable about what I can do proper now. I’m not striving for 7,000 factors this yr; it’s the 2018 mentality the place I simply wish to get the performances out and get the medals, relatively than the factors.”
Evaluating the 2022 model with 2019, she mentioned: “I’ve been working so laborious, and that is the longest run I’ve had with no harm main right into a championship for so long as I can keep in mind, however as at all times, we’ll see. It’s a sport; you by no means know. That’s the place my head’s at proper now.
“Going into Doha , I felt like I used to be in one of the best form of my life; I used to be persistently placing issues collectively in coaching and in competitors. I did trust in my means.
Proper now, it’s been shifted to the truth that I’ve a brand new coach. Totally different factors are taking precedence proper now. I really feel prefer it’s undoubtedly a unique mindset, nevertheless it doesn’t imply that I can’t get an excellent rating.
“As athletes, we adapt, and we alter below the circumstances. Success is one thing that’s particular person to every individual, and success for me can be getting an excellent rating out this summer time, doing the 2 competitions, and being pleased with what I’ve put out. I’m undoubtedly in a unique mindset. I’m a very completely different athlete.”
Her three heptathlons this yr have been:
Götzis seventh 6174
World Championships eighth 6222
Commonwealth first 6377
She is shifting in the precise route, and as she mentioned this week: “Hopefully, this will likely be a stepping stone for me prefer it was in 2018, and we’ll hope for higher issues subsequent yr”.