Katarina Johnson-Thompson is back in action for the first time since Olympic heartbreak


Rusty Katarina Johnson-Thompson opened her pentathlon title defense at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade as she returned for the first time since her Olympic heartbreak.

The world heptathlon champion is competing again after withdrawing from the Tokyo Games last summer during a disastrous year in which she battled a torn Achilles tendon.

She suffered a calf injury in the 200m before retiring in Japan, but joined the British team late for Serbia as she aims to defend the title she won in Birmingham in 2018.

On Friday in Belgrade, Johnson-Thompson showed she still had to get going when she clocked 8.45 seconds in the 60m hurdles.

She went 1.77m in the high jump and only cleared a disappointing 1.83m, while she threw 13.02m in the shot put to finish fifth after the morning session – 122 points behind leader Noor Vidts.

Teammate Holly Mills finished second in her run in 8.15 seconds in the 60m hurdles, cleared 1.74m in the high jump and 13.68m in the shot put and is sixth.

Daryll Neita, who was part of the UK 4x100m relay squad and won Olympic bronze last year after also reaching the 100m final, won her 60m dash to easily advance to the semifinals.

“That was very good. It’s nice to get the first round out of the way and I’ve looked at the stadium now and I can see what it’s like and how bouncy it is. I’m really looking forward to the semi-finals now said Neita after running 7.13 seconds.

“The track is nice, I hadn’t done my pre-meet here so I didn’t know what to expect but it feels good. It feels great to get that first race out of the way because that’s always the ‘rust breaker’ and I feel like I can really focus on the next few laps this afternoon now.”

Ama Pipi qualified second in her 400m with 52.53 seconds and Jessie Knight progressed after being reinstated, but Elliot Giles, one of the favourites, pulled out of the men’s 800m through injury. Katarina Johnson-Thompson is back in action for the first time since Olympic heartbreak

Andrew Schnitker

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