Section: European Indoor Championships

Athletics: Johnson-Thompson smashes Ennis record on way to gold

Katarina Johnson-Thompson broke Jessica Ennis-Hill’s British record, but fell agonisingly short of the world record as she claimed pentathlon gold at the European Indoor Championships in Prague.

Johnson-Thompson amassed 5,000 points, just falling short of Ukrainian Nataliya Dobrynska’s haul of 5,013, to land the first major title of her career in commanding fashion.

If there were any doubts left that this 22-year-old was destined for greatness they were blown out of the water by a performance of utter domination in her first pentathlon for three years.

“I was gutted, instant regret,” she said. “If someone had said to me, ‘You’ve got 5000 points and a gold medal’, at the beginning of the day I would have taken it, but because everything was going so well and I was so close, I think that’s what made me so sad.

“I could have got it if I had pushed a little bit more. It’s regretful, but its still a good score. It’s just that I accumulated all those points to get to that moment where I could actually achieve it.

“It’s been a long day. I got up at 6 o’clock and we didn’t get much rest. You forget I had a hurdles PB today and that’s great. Just because it all blends into one all I was thinking about was the disappointment of not getting the world record.”

Fired up by last year’s injury frustrations when a stress fracture to her foot ruled her out of the Commonwealth Games and European Championships, and boasting a fearless new attitude, Johnson-Thompson came first in the 60m hurdles, high jump and long jump to finish well clear of the field.

The Liverpool athlete roared to a 60m hurdles personal best of 8.18 seconds – her third PB in the discipline in less than three weeks – before clearing a championship record 1.95m in the high jump and equalling her season’s best of 12.32m in the shot put, by far her weakest event.

She lay second after the first three events, but the long jump, at which she is the British indoor record holder and reigning world indoor silver medallist, offered her the chance to all but guarantee gold and to put the world record within touching distance.

She delivered, leaping out to 6.89m on her first attempt. Needing to clock at least two minutes 11.86 seconds over 800m for the world record, Johnson-Thompson looked on course over the first three laps, but, with legs tiring, drifted off the pace and crossed the line in two minutes 12.78 seconds.

Ennis-Hill’s three-year-old British record of 4,965 points was still consigned to history, though. The Olympic heptathlon champion is due to return to the sport this summer following the birth of her first child.
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