Katarina Johnson-Thompson on course for world championship gold

By Sports Desk August 20, 2023

Katarina Johnson-Thompson is on the brink of a stunning heptathlon gold at the World Championships.

The 30-year-old is fighting to reclaim her world crown from 2019 and holds a 26-point lead ahead of the final 800m on Sunday night in Budapest.

It would represent a remarkable comeback from Johnson-Thompson after a ruptured Achilles in 2020 and a calf injury at the Tokyo Olympics which forced her to quit after day one.

A leap of 6.54m in the long jump on Sunday morning put her into the lead, 19 points ahead of the United States’ Anna Hall.

She launched a personal best of 46.14m in the javelin which extended her lead as Hall dropped to third.

The Netherlands’ Anouk Vetter, last year’s silver medallist, is Johnson-Thompson’s nearest challenger, with defending champion Nafi Thiam having pulled out before the championships with an Achilles problem.

Johnson-Thompson has run two minutes 12.40 seconds in the 800m this year while Vetter’s personal best is five seconds slower. Hall has run two minutes 02.97secs this year but is reportedly carrying an injury.

Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita opened their 100m challenge with minimum fuss in Hungary.

Neita, in heat one, ran 11.03secs while Asher-Smith followed her in heat two to clock 11.04s.

Defending champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce ran 11.01s with the USA’s Sha’Carri Richardson qualifying fastest in 10.92s.

Britain’s Matt Hudson-Smith, who won bronze last year, reached the 400m semi-finals after coming second in his heat behind 2016 Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk.

He said: “I just wanted the qualifier and to get through to the semis as comfortably as possible so I have got the job done. There is so much left in the tank but I know I am going to have to fight.

“I’ve got both my legs back. Everyone keeps talking about Steve (Gardiner) and Wayde but I’m not here for participation, I’m here to get a medal. I’ve got both my legs back and I’m here to win.”

Victoria Ohuruogu and Ama Pipi also reached the women’s 400m semi final.

Ohuruogu said: “I’m looking for a medal – I’ve got to aim big. Last year was about the final and people might say I was unrealistic but I was a bit gutted with that so I have clear aims this year, a medal being what I am aiming for.”

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