August 4, 2021

Katarina Johnson-Thompson still has time to challenge at Tokyo Olympics – Denise Lewis

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Katarina Johnson-Thompson
Johnson-Thompson won the world title in Doha in 2019

Former Olympic heptathlon champion Denise Lewis says Katarina Johnson-Thompson still has time to recover her best form with the Olympics looming.

It was only the second time she has competed this year after suffering a ruptured Achilles at the end of 2020.

“She looks strong, but she’s missing that zip,” Lewis told the BBC. “You can achieve that in the time she has.”

The Olympics begin on 23 July, although the heptathlon competition starts on 4 August.

Johnson-Thompson achieved a best of 6.10m from five long jumps in Gateshead. Her personal best is 6.92m, while all five of her long jumps in the build-up to her world title win in 2019 were in excess of 6.43m.

She registered a 1.84m high jump at an event in France last month, also well short of her best form.

Denise Lewis
Lewis won one of two British athletics gold medals at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, with triple jumper Jonathan Edwards also winning his event

But Lewis, who overcame an Achilles tendon problem of her own to win gold in Sydney in 2000, believes that there are swift gains to be made now Johnson-Thompson feels more confident her body has healed.

“She’s healthy with no reaction. She really does have time to find that speed and work through those issues,” she added.

“However, she’s going to have to push it if she wants to get a medal.”

Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, who won multi-event gold and silver at London 2012 and Rio 2016 respectively, agreed.

“Katarina is hugely talented, it’s all in there, it’s ingrained.” she said.

“It’s just having enough time to be able to sharpen up and bring that out for Tokyo.”

Olympic withdrawal was ‘close’ – Lewis

Lewis has given advice to Johnson-Thompson in the past and revealed that the 28-year-old was “close” to abandoning her Olympic campaign earlier this year.”I’ve been there,” said Lewis. “I know what that feels like, so once the tears were over it was a question of getting back into some sort of fitness and really focusing on your conditioning.

“You’ve got to really put it to bed and she did. It’s great to see her out here because I actually didn’t think she would make it this far.”

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