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Katarina Johnson-Thompson back in action for first time since Olympic heartbreak

Rusty Katarina Johnson-Thompson opened her pentathlon title defence at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade as she returned for the first time since her Olympic heartbreak.

The world heptathlon champion is competing again after pulling out of the Games in Tokyo last summer during a disastrous year where she battled a ruptured Achilles.

She suffered a calf injury in the 200m before withdrawing in Japan but was a late entry into the British team for Serbia as she aims to defend the title she won in Birmingham in 2018.

In Belgrade on Friday Johnson-Thompson showed she still needed to get up to speed as she ran 8.45seconds in the 60m hurdles.

She entered the high jump at 1.77m and only cleared a disappointing 1.83m while throwing 13.02m in the shot put to sit fifth – 122 points behind leader Noor Vidts – after the morning session.

Team-mate Holly Mills was second in her heat in 8.15secs in the 60m hurdles, cleared 1.74m in the high jump and 13.68m in the shot put and is sixth.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson
Katarina Johnson-Thompson had a 2021 to forget due to injury (Joe Giddens/PA))

Daryll Neita, who was part of Britain’s 4x100m relay squad to win Olympic bronze last year having also reached the 100m final, won her 60m heat to ease into the semi-finals.

“That was really good. It’s nice to get the first round out of the way and I’ve had a look at the stadium now, and I can see what it’s like and how bouncy it is. I am really excited for the semi-finals now,” Neita said, after running 7.13s.

“The track is nice, I hadn’t done my pre-meet here so I didn’t know what to expect but it feels good. It feels great to get that first race out of the way because that’s always the ‘rust-buster’ and I feel like now I can really focus on the next couple of rounds this afternoon.”

Ama Pipi qualified second in her 400m heat with a 52.53s and Jessie Knight progressed after being reinstated but Elliot Giles, one of the favourites, withdrew from the men’s 800m heats due to injury.

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