‘I wasn’t leaving in a wheelchair’: Johnson-Thompson on Olympics agony

  • World champion heptathlete reveals injury despair
  • ‘I don’t know how to explain how I feel’

Katarina Johnson-Thompson, whose Olympic heptathlon dreams ended when she tore a calf muscle while in medal contention on Wednesday, has said that refusing to get in a wheelchair despite being in pain was a last gesture of defiance after a tough year.

The world champion said she believed she could still win a medal despite missing six months of training until disaster struck in the 200m. But even after her injury she kept hobbling to the line, in echoes of Derek Redmond at the 1992 Olympics.

“I started the year in a wheelchair and I was not willing to end my Olympic campaign the same way,” she wrote on Twitter.

“I don’t know where to begin in trying to explain how I feel,” she said. “Only a handful of people understand what I have been through. An even smaller amount understand the mental and physical challenges I’ve faced trying to make it back in time through a pandemic after my achilles rupture at the back end of December.

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

Some criticised her decision to come to Tokyo after so little training or competition, but the 28-year-old had no regrets.

“More than ever I’m proud that I showed up, put myself out there and tried,” said Johnson-Thompson, who had looked likely to end day one of the competition in the medal positions. “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 AF and I find it extremely hard to give up. I can’t rest easy knowing I applied myself every single day and pushed until I couldn’t push any more.

“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 these 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. I appreciate the kind messages. Thank you x.”

Contributor

Sean Ingle at Tokyo Olympic Stadium

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Katarina Johnson-Thompson ‘fully fit and ready to go’ for Tokyo
Katarina Johnson-Thompson has given Team GB a huge boost ahead of the Olympics by declaring that she is 100% fit for Tokyo

Sean Ingle

12, Jul, 2021 @2:50 PM

Article image
Gemili backs Johnson-Thompson to win Olympic gold despite injury
Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s Olympic dream is still on track despite a serious achilles injury last year and remains capable of winning gold in Tokyo, says Adam Gemili

Sean Ingle

24, May, 2021 @9:00 PM

Article image
Johnson-Thompson hangs on to hope despite injury-plagued road to Tokyo
The 28-year-old was a starry-eyed teenager at London 2012 but arrives for the Games in Tokyo after a series of highs and lows

Alexandra Topping

23, Jul, 2021 @7:00 AM

Article image
Katarina Johnson-Thompson focused on Olympic Games after modest return
Katarina Johnson-Thompson was keen to take the positives from her first long-jump performance of the year after a modest distance at the British Grand Prix in Gateshead

Sean Ingle

13, Jul, 2021 @9:06 PM

Article image
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: ‘I didn’t want to be at the Rio Olympics but I’m ready for Tokyo’
Katarina Johnson-Thompson tells Donald McRae she has been revitalised by a move to Montpellier and has put the lows of 2016 and 2017 behind her

Donald McRae

13, Dec, 2019 @10:00 PM

Article image
Katarina Johnson-Thompson says she ‘tore everything up’ to win world title
Katarina Johnson-Thompson said it was ‘like a dream’ to win world heptathlon gold after turning her career around

Sean Ingle in Doha

03, Oct, 2019 @11:35 PM

Article image
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: ‘There have been some hard times … dad definitely spurred me on’
Katarina Johnson-Thompson has overcome family bereavement to claim silver this summer but believes she can improve on that, she tells Sean Ingle

Sean Ingle

15, Aug, 2018 @5:37 PM

Article image
‘I’ve cried enough to last me a career’: how adversity drove Johnson-Thompson to gold
The heptathlete has suffered more than her fair share of injuries and major championships heartbreak but it all came right in Doha to spectacular effect

Sean Ingle in Doha

04, Oct, 2019 @3:59 PM

Article image
Andrew Butchart’s Olympics in doubt after ‘fake Covid test’ comments
Team GB’s Andrew Butchart has clarified his remarks to a podcast when he said he had falsified a Covid test to get back into Britain

Sean Ingle

29, Jun, 2021 @3:58 PM

Article image
Stephanie Davis reaches Olympics less than three years after first marathon
Part-timer will represent Great Britain in Tokyo after blitzing the field at the long-distance trials in Kew

Paul MacInnes

26, Mar, 2021 @2:44 PM