Katarina Johnson-Thompson says her tragic Olympic exit will “take a lot of time to process”, admitting: “I hate that my story has played out in more heartbreak”.
Johnson-Thompson fought back from an Achilles injury in time to be fit for the Tokyo Games and started the heptathlon with a strong showing in the 100m hurdles, before solid efforts in the high jump and shot put suggested she was in medal contention. However, it was not to be as the world champion pulled up injured during the evening’s 200m with a calf problem.
In an emotional post on social media, the 28-year-old said it was a “miracle” she had even been able to start the competition after rupturing her Achilles in December, and explained her insistence on walking to the finish line when medics tried to usher her into a wheelchair.
“I don’t know where to begin in trying to explain how I feel,” Johnson-Thompson said. “Only a handful of people understand what I’ve been through.
“I started the year in a wheelchair and I was not willing to end my Olympic campaign the same way.
Going to take some time to process and heal my body & spirit ❤️🩹 pic.twitter.com/B7YIYD5MJV
— KJT (@JohnsonThompson) August 5, 2021
“To make it to the line was a miracle. To not only 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.
“More than ever, I am proud that I showed up, put myself out there and tried. 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 rest easy knowing I applied myself every single day and pushed until I couldn’t push anymore.”
Johnson-Thompson’s world title win in 2019 was seen as a breakthrough moment after several near-misses and disappointments at major championships, but her latest injury means another medal opportunity has come and gone in gutting fashion.
“I have sacrificed so much, moving my entire life to France 5 years ago away from my family and friends,” she added. “I’ve lost heart knowing that the work my team and I have done for the last 8 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.”