Katarina Johnson-Thompson off the pace in Oregon as Nafi Thiam leads

Katarina Johnson-Thompson off the pace in Oregon as Nafi Thiam leads

Katarina Johnson-Thompson sat seventh after the opening morning of her heptathlon title defence at the World Championships.

The reigning champion from Doha 2019 had 2,781 points following the first three events at Hayward Stadium.

It left her trailing Olympic champion and leader Nafi Thiam by 346 points and the medal positions by 198 ahead of the 200m on Sunday evening.

Johnson-Thompson has only managed one full heptathlon since winning the world crown in Doha three years ago, the Gotzis hypo-meeting in May, following injury.

Worlds Athletics
Johnson-Thompson struggled on the opening morning. David J. Phillip/AP)

She pulled out of last year’s Olympics after suffering a calf injury in the 200 metres, having recovered from a ruptured Achilles in December 2020.

There is little expectation the Commonwealth Games champion will be able to defend her title in Eugene.

Johnson-Thompson opened with 13.54 seconds – way down on her 13.09 personal best from Doha – to finish fifth in the 100m hurdles.

Thiam’s huge personal best of 13.21 seconds, in one of her weakest disciplines, was ominous.

In the high jump, Johnson-Thompson entered at 1.74m, uncharacteristically low, but cleared 1.77m, 1.80m and 1.83m at the first attempts.

But she was unable to clear 1.86m – compared to Thiam’s 1.95m – and was clearly upset with her performance.

The shot put, one of her weakest events, offered little chance of redemption and she threw a best of 12.92m.

Elsewhere, Matt Hudson-Smith cruised through his 400m heat to win in 45.49 seconds.

The European champion is joined in the semi-final by Alex Haydock-Wilson after he came third in the opening heat in 45.62 seconds.

Hudson-Smith said: “It was quite easy, just executed and went for the victory. The work’s been done. You do what you’ve put in.

“I can only control my lane, everyone else is irrelevant really.

“My coach has told me I’ve done the work, just go out and show it. He asked me before I went to the track ‘do you belong here’? It was quite explicit but I said ‘I’ve waited three years for this, so I’m ready’.”

In the women’s 400m heats, Victoria Ohuruogu and Ama Pipi qualified for the semi-final automatically with Nicole Yeargin also progressing with a season’s best of 51.17 seconds.