Olympic star says she is back on track at last

Katarina Johnson-Thompson in action in the women's long jump at Sheffield.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson in action in the women's long jump at Sheffield.
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Katarina Johnson-Thompson insists she is back on track after her coaching switch.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson insists she is back on track after her coaching switch.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

The 24-year-old finished second in the long jump at the British Indoor Team Trials in Sheffield yesterday to book her spot in the British Athletics team for next month’s European Indoors Championships.

Johnson-Thompson is now coached by Jean-Yves Cochand, who is based in Montpellier, after splitting from Mike Holmes following last year’s Olympics.

She finished sixth in the heptathlon, breaking the British high jump record, at the Games last summer having been fourth after the first day.

And, after her first competition since Rio, Johnson-Thompson believes she is enjoying herself again having become frustrated with her fitness and form.

“I set really high expectations of myself and when I don’t reach those expectations it’s really hard for me to face. With the heptathlon, just because you can do a 1.98metres high jump, doesn’t mean you’re going to win a gold medal,” she said.

“You see glimpses of good performances but I could never get them all together so that’s why I was so gutted with fifth and sixth places.

“It’s the first competition of the year so no matter who I’m with I always worry about it. You’re always anxious before the first competition so this is the cobwebs blown off and I’m happy with the performance.

“I didn’t enjoy anything over the last two years and I was going down a path were you could see it in my performances. I think being healthy and in one piece has got a lot to do with it.

“I’m normally worried about my body and that shows on my face, so when I’m not injured it shows I’m just out there and enjoying it and not thinking about technique or ‘this bit of my body is going to go’.”

She also confirmed she will not defend her 2015 indoor pentathlon crown but will instead focus on the long jump at next month’s championships in Belgrade.

“It is my opening competition. I’ve usually done a couple of events in the build up to this so it is a bit weird to come out into this environment and not know what kind of shape I was in,” added Johnson-Thompson.

“My plan is to do the long jump at the European Indoors. It was all about getting in the top two today so I am happy to have achieved that.”

The Liverpool athlete also pulled out of the women’s 60metre hurdle final having only just finished the long jump, where she lost out to Lorraine Ugen after posting 6.69metres.

There were plenty of top performances from local athletes at the championships.

Luke Cutts (City of Sheffield and Dearne) won the pole vault on countback from Max Eves (Newham and Essex).

Both cleared 5.43 but Cutts cleared the previous height at his first attempt whereas his opponent needed three attempts.

It was a satisfying win for Cutts although well short of the qualifying height for the European Championships. His training partner Adam Hague was absent due to competition in Australia.

Another City of Sheffield athlete to win was Lee Emanuel who won the 3000 metres in 7:55.91. Emanuel is based in New Mexico but always returns every year for the trials, both indoor and out. He already has the qualifying mark for the European indoor in Belgrade next month and so his selection is a formality. Emanuel was silver medallist in the European indoors two years ago in this event. The 3000 metres was a South Yorkshire carve-up with Hallamshire’s Andy Heyes taking the runner-up spot in a personal best of 7:57.00.

There was a win for Scott Lincoln (City of York) in the shot. Firm favourite for the event, Lincoln started with a no throw and then a modest 16.46. His third effort, however, was measured at 18.76 and that turned out to be the winning throw although the York athlete had three other efforts well over the 18 metres mark.

Leeds-based Tom Bosworth won the 5000 metres walk. That was never in doubt but it was the UK record that Bosworth wanted and he succeeded in style with 18:39.47 winning by over a minute. Such was his control that each of his first four kilometres were within a second of each other before upping the pace in the final stages.

Yorkshire junior champion Connor Wood, formerly with Leeds City but now with Sale Harriers, looked impressive in taking silver in the 200 metres in 21.19.

Bosworth said: “I can only imagine what it will be like on the Mall in London (for the World Championships) this summer, I cannot wait. I am in a really good position – that was a world lead by some way but I knew I was capable of it. It is great to win a national title.”


Former world champion Richard Kilty cursed deja vu after he was disqualified from the 60m final at the British Indoor Championships in Sheffield on Saturday.

Kilty missed out on a chance to retain his world indoor title last year after twitching on the blocks at Sheffield’s English Institute of Sport.

And the pre-event favourite suffered the same fate 12 months on after he was penalised for rising early from lane three in Saturday’s showpiece event.

Andrew Robertson went on to take the national title in 6.57sec – continuing his unbeaten start to the season – with Theo Etienne (6.59) dipping ahead of Dwain Chambers (6.62).

“I don’t know what happened,” Kilty said. “When they said it was lane three, I just thought ‘this is de ja vu’. I think stupidly more than trying to win the race, I was chasing a really fast time. I shouldn’t have done that. I should have gone out to win”

Robertson will now lead the British sprinters at the European Indoors in Belgrade next month.

“I don’t want to be over there to make the numbers up,” the 26-year-old said.

“I think that time today (6.57) has put me second or third on the rankings for Europe, and I don’t even feel like that was me at my best, so hopefully I can continue to progress and show I have that bit more in the tank”

Sheffield and Dearne sprinter Imran Rahman went out in the semi-final stage, clocking 6.71.

Asha Philip defended her sprint crown in the women’s 60m in 7.19sec to put her sixth on the European list – with British teammate Dina Asher-Smith (7.41) fastest.

Eilish McColgan, who won her appeal to remain on British Athletics funding in December, took the 3,000m title after winning an intense battle with Stephanie Twell.

Andrew Pozzi produced a dominant display to win the 60m hurdles final in 7.51sec.

Rising star Morgan Lake held off an inspired Bethan Partride to win the women’s high jump on countback after clearing 1.89m, while Rio Olympian Shelayna Oskan-Clarke won the 800m in a season best of 2.03.54.

Sheffield’s Daniel Gardiner (7.70m) finished third in the long jump. Leeds’s Ossama Meslek missed out on a fastest losers’ place for Sunday’s 1,500m final after finishing fifth in his heat.