Katarina Johnson-Thompson believes the time was right for change

Katarina Johnson-Thompson believes the time was right for change

Katarina Johnson-Thompson admits she needed to make the brave decisions to protect her long-term future.

The reigning heptathlon champion has a different perspective after a troubled build-up to her title defence at the World Championships in Eugene.

Her 18-month injury nightmare is barely behind her and the 29-year-old arrives in Oregon amid difficult preparations, having split from coach Petros Kyprianou in June just months after relocating to Florida.

She only left former coach, Bertrand Valcin, last year having worked with the Frenchman – who oversaw her world title in 2019 – for five years.

IAAF World Athletics Championships 2019 – Day Six – Khalifa International Stadium
Bertrand Valcin coached Johnson-Thompson to her world title. (Mike Egerton/PA)

Back in the UK, Johnson-Thompson is now under the tutelage of Aston Moore and insisted the upheaval is necessary.

“I don’t really want to get too into it with the ins and outs but I feel like it just wasn’t working for me out there,” she said, having recovered from a ruptured Achilles to make last year’s Olympics, only to see her Games dream wrecked by a calf injury in the 200m.

“Looking ahead to Paris (2024 Olympics), I wanted to make these decisions sooner rather than later, so I made the decision to come back home and move forward without Petros, which is a shame.

“Ultimately I have to do what’s right for me and I believe this is what it is.

“It ended amicably. That’s why I didn’t really want to get into it and cause unnecessary headlines. Me and him have ended on good terms and it’s just something that I felt I needed to do going forward.

“I’ve dealt with Aston in the past, he’s taken me for many different events in Diamond Leagues in the past when my old coach couldn’t be there.

“Ultimately I’ve had bigger issues to deal with than changing coach like last year.”

Johnson-Thompson faces an uphill battle to retain her title after her third lowest heptathlon score at the hypo-meeting in Gotzis in May.

She earned just 6,174 points, more than 800 below her personal best, although it was her first full heptathlon since becoming world champion almost three years ago.

Muller Birmingham Diamond League – Alexander Stadium
Johnson-Thompson won with a British record in Doha. (David Davies/PA)

In Doha she scored 6,981 – breaking Jessica Ennis-Hill’s British record – but two-time Olympic champion Nafi Thiam is looking to reclaim the title she won in 2017.

“Going into Doha, I felt like I was in the best shape of my life, I was consistently putting things together in training and in competition,” said Johnson-Thompson, ahead of the heptathlon which starts on Sunday at Hayward Field.

“I did have confidence in my ability go in there and win but at the same time I was in the mindset of ‘what will be, will be’.

“Whatever score came out, I knew I was in good shape and I was going to put a good score out but I didn’t really care about what medal I took, I just wanted to make sure I get this good score out.

IAAF World Athletics Championships 2019 – Day Eight – Khalifa International Stadium
Johnson-Thompson beat Jessica Ennis-Hill’s British record to win in Doha. (Martin Rickett/PA)

“Right now, it’s been shifted in the fact I have a new coach. Different points are taking priority right now, I feel like it’s definitely a different mindset but it doesn’t mean that I can’t get a good score out.

“I had a different mindset in 2021 when I was just trying to come back from injury and I feel like I could have put out a good score out. As athletes we adapt and we change under the circumstances.

“Success is something that is individual to each person and success for me would be getting a good score out this summer, doing the two championships and being proud of what I’ve put out. I’m definitely in a different mindset.

“When you look back on my career each year and for each Olympic cycle, I’m a completely different athlete.”