What to look out for: KJT and the heptathlon

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    It is 16 August 2009 and Katarina Johnson-Thompson vividly recalls the moment Usain Bolt roared along the blue track of the Berlin Olympic Stadium to smash the 100m world record.

    “I was watching it on television,” she said. “I just remember it, it was so special. I am happy that I am now competing there.”

    At the time, Johnson-Thompson was 16, with a flourishing career ahead of her, of hopes and dreams of being among the elite of the sport.

    Now she will take her place as just that when Berlin co-hosts the first multisport European Championships, along with Glasgow next month.

    She will be there in Berlin, on that same blue track, maybe even in the same lane as Bolt himself – he was in four for his 100m world record and five for his 200m world record – for a couple of her events as she chases glory in the heptathlon.

    It will be some competition as the Great Britain star meets the top three from last summer’s IAAF World Championships in London – Belgium’s Olympic champion Nafissatou Thiam, Germany’s big hope Carolin Schafer and the Netherlands’ Anouk Vetter.

    Johnson-Thompson was fifth but since then has twice found herself on the top of the podium.

    In March, she won the pentathlon at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018 and then a few weeks later on Australia’s Gold Coast, she was crowned the Commonwealth Games heptathlon champion.

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    It was the first senior heptathlon title of her career and now the 25-year-old is ready to make a mark on a European championship title which has a rich history among her British predecessors.

    Denise Lewis won the event in Budapest in 1998 and Jessica Ennis-Hill took gold in Barcelona in 2010 – and for both them, two years later they were Olympic champions.

    Johnson-Thompson cannot wait for the Championships and said: “The opposition will be tough, it is a strong field and I am very excited to be in the stadium.”

    But she does not feel any burden of following in the steps of so many successful multi-eventers from her home shores.

    “I don’t see it as pressure, I see it as a good thing,' said Johnson-Thompson. “The reason we have had so many multi-eventers coming through is because it is for that reason – when we are young, we see them on the television doing well and think ‘that looks cool’.

    “It is a good habit to have, because it is an amazing event and I don’t think we are gluttons for punishment. We just get bored easier and like to do everything!”

    Johnson-Thompson has a superb record on the European stage.

    She won the heptathlon at the Tampere 2013 European Athletics U23 Championships and in 2015, she produced one of the performances of her life in Prague with gold in the pentathlon at the European Athletics Indoor Championships where her score of 5000 points was just 13 outside of the world record.

    Now she is very much on the road to Berlin and provided a small insight into how her everything suddenly moves up another gear.

    “It is the progression of hard training,” she said. “When you first get into it, it feels like it is impossible to do anything. You think, ‘How am I going to get there?’ Then, as the weeks go by, you complete sessions that you could not.”

    By August, Johnson-Thompson will be primed for gold. She will not be alone. It should be two days of heptathlon competition that will be long remembered.


    More information on the 2018 European Championships:

    - The Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships will be part of the first multisport European Championships along with co-hosts Glasgow.

    - It will be a must-watch, must-attend experience that elevates the status of European Champions, uniting existing European Championships to celebrate the highest honour in European sport and celebrating the defining moments that create Champions.

    - It is the continent’s ultimate multi-sport event, an 11-day celebration of European sport staged every four years.

    - Seven of Europe’s leading sports (athletics, aquatics, rowing, golf, cycling, gymnastics, triathlon) will be brought together for the first edition.

    - The European Athletics Championships in Berlin will be staged 7-12 August. The six other sports will be staged in Glasgow through 2-12 August.

    - 4500 athletes and 52 nations will compete across the seven sports.

    - Potential TV audience of over one billion with millions more across multiple digital platforms.

    - Over half a million spectators expected.

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