Katarina Johnson-Thompson wept tears of joy as the Briton regained her heptathlon world title in Budapest on Sunday, finally returning to her best after putting a series of serious injuries behind her.
The 30-year-old multi-event specialist edged Anna Hall by 20 points after finishing within the required three-second leeway between her and the American in the final event, the 800m, to land her second world title four years after her first.
Johnson-Thompson scored 6,740 points to Hall’s 6,720.
Her gold was a huge leap from her forlorn eighth place in the world championships in Oregon last year -- a performance that haunted her.
“I can’t believe it, it’s been a dream of mine and I’ve been thinking about it for months and months. I’m just so happy, it’s a dream come true to do it again,” Johnson-Thompson told the BBC.
“This time last year coming away from Eugene, it was such a horrible feeling to be in the competition but not competing for the medals,” she said.
“All I have ever wanted was a shot at gold and I’m just so happy I was able to take that opportunity today.”
Since her victory in Doha in 2019, Johnson-Thompson has ruptured her Achilles, followed by a torn calf muscle which ended her Olympic hopes in Tokyo and required surgery.
She has admitted she feared at times that her career was over.
Last year she won the Commonwealth title in Birmingham, albeit against less illustrious competitors than she faced in Hungary.
After the 800m on Sunday, Hall fell to the track on completing the gruelling two-day event and then held her hands to her eyes in despair as the narrow margin of defeat sank in.
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Johnson-Thompson said the 800m was “the easiest run I have ever done in my life. I didn’t know the time till I was on the victory lap.”
The Netherlands’ Anouk Vetter, who like Johnson-Thompson produced a superb performance in the javelin, the penultimate event, took bronze with a total of 6,501 points.
Johnson-Thompson’s victory comes in the absence of Belgium’s injured two-time Olympic gold medallist and defending champion Nafissatou Thiam.
But as the athletes look forward to the Paris Olympics next year, Johnson-Thompson said her second world gold was the boost she needed.
“It has given me so much confidence going forward.”
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