Katarina Johnson-Thompson ‘100 per cent’ fit as Olympic preparations step up

Katarina Johnson-Thompson ‘100 per cent’ fit as Olympic preparations step up

Katarina Johnson-Thompson will head for Tokyo convinced she is 100 per cent fit but knowing anything can happen in the heptathlon.

The reigning world champion ruptured the Achilles tendon in her jumping leg in December and has negotiated a gruelling path back to fitness since, the latest step upon which will see her compete in the long jump at the Muller British Grand Prix in Gateshead on Tuesday evening.

Johnson-Thompson knows she is short of the competitive action she would ordinarily have had under her belt at this stage but believes she is physically in shape to take on arch-rival and Rio gold medallist Nafi Thiam.

The 28-year-old said: “I’m 100 per cent now. Everything is healed, I just haven’t had the competition practice that I normally would have, that’s obvious.

“Everyone knows I haven’t competed – this is one of my first big competitions and it’s July.

“I’m 100 per cent in my body but at the same time, the heptathlon is the heptathlon and anything can happen. In the coming weeks, I’ll see where I am performance-wise in the coming competitions that I’m going to compete in.”

Simply being able to compete at the Wanda Diamond League event at Gateshead International Stadium is a significant step in the right direction for the Briton in the wake of injury.

She knew immediately that she faced a long haul back, and that her chances of making the Olympics hung in the balance.

She said: “The lowest part was definitely the impact when it happened and trying to re-adjust realities and preparations for something I’ve been preparing for for five years.

“It’s been a tough road, but I’m happy that it’s actually worked out. At one point, it could have gone one of two ways and I’m glad it’s gone in the best direction for me and I’m able to compete in my third Olympics.

“I’m fully fit and ready to go.”

Katarina Johnson-Thompson
Katarina Johnson-Thompson has so far only competed in high jump since her return from injury (Mike Egerton/PA)

Such was the severity of the injury that Johnson-Thompson was selected for Tokyo subject to fitness, although she laid down a marker the following day when she cleared 1.84m in the high jump away from the media glare in a low-key meeting in France.

Asked if she could still make the podium in Tokyo, she said: “That’s my aim.

“I’ve worked very hard for the last seven months to get to the position I’m in. I’m in the same position as I would have been last year. Nobody knows what can happen on the day, especially in heptathlon, and my goals haven’t changed.

“Circumstances beforehand have changed, but I just know that I’m pushing every day to still achieve my targets.”

Johnson-Thompson is one of a series of star names who will use the Gateshead meeting to fine-tune for the Olympics, American sprinter Trayvon Bromell- who has the fastest 100m time in the world this year – and Dutch 400m hurdler Femke Bol among them.

However, world 1500m and 10,000m champion Sifan Hassan has had to withdraw with a slight hamstring strain.