Christian Malcolm backs Katarina Johnson-Thompson to win Olympics fitness fight

Christian Malcolm backs Katarina Johnson-Thompson to win Olympics fitness fight

UK Athletics head coach Christian Malcolm has backed Katarina Johnson-Thompson to win her Olympics fitness battle.

The world heptathlon champion has been included in Team GB’s squad for the Tokyo Games, subject to overcoming her injury worries.

Johnson-Thompson suffered a serious Achilles injury at the end of last year and, while she is back in training, is yet to compete.

She is due to do two events – one of them being the high jump – at her home track in Montpellier next month and Malcolm expects her to prove her fitness.

Malcolm said: “Yeah. She has been back for several weeks, months, now training so she will be doing a competition within the next week or so. That’s when she will be able to prove her fitness.

“She is in a really good space. I did speak to her this morning and she is really happy with her progression, training and where she is at. She is really comfortable.

Muller Indoor Grand Prix – Emirates Arena
Katarina Johnson-Thompson is returning to fitness (Ian Rutherford/PA)

“Mentally she seems in a really good space. The words she used were she was quite excited about being able to compete and being able to see where she is at. She is in good spirits.

“It’s not as if she is taking someone else’s spot so I won’t be putting any pressure on her.”

The 28-year-old won the world heptathlon title in Doha in 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic forced the postponement of the Olympics last year.

Her fight for gold with defending champion Nafi Thiam was expected to be one of the battles of the Games and Malcolm insisted Johnson-Thompson can still challenge for medals despite fitness doubts.

He said: “With the heptathlon anything could happen. With someone like KJT, if she didn’t think she would be there close to her best then she wouldn’t put herself there.

“We will know more after her competitions and where she will be at in the next couple of weeks.”