Tokyo Olympics: Reaching the start line was a miracle – Johnson-Thompson explains injury fightback

By Sports Desk August 05, 2021

Katarina Johnson-Thompson explained how it was a "miracle" for her to even reach the starting line in the heptathlon after her Tokyo dream was ended by a calf injury.

World champion Johnson-Thompson was well in medal contention in the 200m event of the women's heptathlon, yet ultimately ended up trudging over the line in tears.

The 28-year-old, who ruptured her Achilles tendon in December, pulled up with a calf problem. However, she refused to get in the wheelchair that was rolled out to the track, and instead got over the line on her own.

On Thursday, Johnson-Thompson revealed the arduous journey she has gone through to ensure she could participate in Tokyo.

"I don't know where to begin in trying to explain how I feel. Only a handful of people understand what I've been through," she wrote in a statement posted to her official Twitter account.

"Even a smaller amount understand the mental and physical challenges I've faced trying to make it back in time through a pandemic after my Achilles ruptured the back end of December. I started the year in a wheelchair and I was not willing to end my Olympic campaign the same way.

"To make it to the line was a miracle. To not only do that, but to be on my way to putting a decent score together, is heart-breaking. I truly believed I was capable of winning a medal despite having up to half a year of missed training."

Johnson-Thompson's Olympic spirit was on show for all to see and the 2018 Commonwealth Games champion is proud of her efforts, though she conceded this is a blow that may take her some time to come back from. 

"More than ever, I am proud that I showed up, put myself out there and tried," she continued.

"It would have been very easy to shy away and pull out, to say I wasn't ready and blame the injury but I'm not that type of athlete or person.

"I am a fighter, I'm gritty and I find it extremely hard to give up. I can rest easy knowing I applied myself every single day and pushed until I couldn't push anymore.

"I've sacrificed so much, moving my entire life to France five years ago away from my family and friends.

"I've lost heart knowing that the work my team and I have done for the last eight months was for this outcome and I hate that my story has played out in more heartbreak. I've been knocked so many times and got back up, but it will take a lot of time for me to process this reality."

Related items

  • Thompson-Herah opens with outdoor 7.15s 60m win at Queens/Grace Jackson Invitational Thompson-Herah opens with outdoor 7.15s 60m win at Queens/Grace Jackson Invitational

    Elaine Thompson-Herah began her 2023 campaign with a victory over 60m at the Queen's/Grace Jackson Invitational at the National Stadium in Kingston on Saturday.

  • Can Jamaica's growing stock of female sprint hurdlers rise to global dominance? Can Jamaica's growing stock of female sprint hurdlers rise to global dominance?

    For more than a decade now, Jamaica’s women have bossed the 100m.  Veronica Campbell-Brown won Jamaica’s first global 100m gold medal in Osaka in 2007 and since then Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson-Herah have basically made the 100m their own with the former winning five world titles and two Olympic titles while Thompson won back to back 100m titles in Brazil in 2016 and 2021 in Tokyo, Japan where she established a new Olympic record of 10.61.

    However, with their dominance of the blue-ribbon sprint at its zenith, the women from the land of wood and water seem poised to begin dominating yet another event, the 100m hurdles. Since the 1990s, Jamaica has done reasonably well at the sprint hurdles.

    Michelle Freeman was the first Jamaican woman to reach a global final and eventually won won global medals in 1993 and 1997. Dionne Rose and Freeman were Jamaica's first ever Olympic finalists, finishing fifth and sixth, respectively in 1996.

    The following year Freeman and Gillian Russell, a 1995 World Championships finalist, went 1-2 at the World Indoor Championships.

    Brigitte Foster-Hylton and Delloreen Ennis-London picked up from them with the former winning silver  at the 2003 World Championships, bronze in 2005. Ennis-London won a silver and bronze at the 2005 and 2007 World Championships respectively.

    Foster-Hylton made the breakthrough at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin with a fantastic run to give Jamaica gold, Ennis-London won the bronze. Danielle Williams won Jamaica’s second 100m hurdles gold in Beijing 2015 in Beijing and followed with a bronze medal in 2019.

    Two years later, Megan Tapper created history for Jamaica when she became the first-ever Jamaican woman to win a medal in the 100m hurdles at an Olympic Games when she captured bronze in Tokyo, Japan.

    Then at the 2022 World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, Britany Anderson, a finalist in Tokyo in 2021, won silver in the sprint hurdlers.

    Tapper and Anderson are among a growing cadre of Jamaican female sprint hurdlers who are among the very best in the world. Among them are Ackera Nugent, the World U20 60m hurdles record holder who opened her 2023 season with a time of 8.00 indoors and Demisha Roswell, who ran a personal best 12.44 and is the fastest Jamaican woman in the world this year over the 60m hurdles with a 7.98 clocking this past weekend.

    There is also hope that former national record holder Janeek Brown will make a successful return to the event this season after two years of disruption in her personal life and athletic career. Perhaps, the most talented of the lot is 17-year-old Kerrica Hill, who last year succeeded Nugent as World Under 20 champion and who recently turned professional.

    In 2022, Jamaica had four of the 10 fastest women in the world. The USA also had four while Puerto Rico and Nigeria had one each.

     If Jamaica’s women are to reach the pinnacle and find some level of dominance it will require a lot of technical work and consistently fast hurdling to get there but if the 100m women are anything to go by, nothing is beyond their reach.

     

  • Mississippi State Junior Rosealee Cooper runs 8.07 to win 60m hurdles at Bob Pollock Invitational Mississippi State Junior Rosealee Cooper runs 8.07 to win 60m hurdles at Bob Pollock Invitational

    Mississippi State Junior Rosealee Cooper won the Women’s 60m hurdles at the Clemson Bob Pollock Invitational in South Carolina on Friday.

    The 22-year-old former St. Jago High standout ran 8.07 to win ahead of Tennessee’s Charisma Taylor (8.10) and Amber Hughes (8.20) who ran unattached.

    Jamaican 2015 World Champion in the 100m hurdles, Danielle Williams, was also in the race but was disqualified after a false start. She had earlier run 8.07 in the prelims to advance as the fastest qualifier.

    Elsewhere, Antiguan Tennessee Junior Joella Lloyd ran 7.21 to finish third in the 60m behind teammate Jacious Sears (7.17) and Nike’s Kayla White (7.20).

    Lloyd represented Antigua & Barbuda in the 100m at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 as well as the World Championships and Commonwealth Games in 2022.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.