2022 – Katharina Johnson-Thompson’s painful reality check on return to work | Katrina Johnson Thompson

Katharina Johnson-Thompson has been subjected to a painful reality check in her first heptathlon since she tore her calf at the Olympics last year. She finished the first day of the prestigious Hypomeeting with a severe bruise to her knee and seriously diminished her ambitions to defend her world title in July.

After four of the seven events, Johnson-Thompson is ninth with 3,695 points – 245 points behind young Paul Adriana Soleck but overall in line with her own expectations as she tries to return to her peak level.

“It hurts when you’re here and the contest juices come back,” she said. “It’s hard and frustrating that I’m not a competitor, but I’ve accepted that this is where I am now.”

The good news, at least, is that Johnson-Thompson showed no lingering signs of the calf injury that forced her off the track during the Tokyo 200m, or the severe Achilles tendon rupture that threatened to end her career in 2020.

But when asked if there was anything positive to glean from day one, she was impressively candid. “You have to,” she said with a smile. “But you have to dig deep for it.”

Johnson-Thompson’s first competition, the 100-meter hurdles, provided a disturbing harbinger of what was to come. At her personal best, the 29-year-old finished third in the 23-man field, but she was slow and, after crossing three hurdles, her last career time of 13.80 seconds with a 1007-point lead.

This put her in thirteenth place and there was no consolation in the high jump. At his best, Johnson-Thompson is world class and holds the British record with a jump of 1.98 metres. But after overcoming 1.77 meters, she failed three times averaging 1.80 meters for 914 points – despite being unlucky on the first and third attempts.

“My knees are black and blue from encountering three hurdles, which is unfortunate because I felt so good from the event,” she said.

“The high jump was similar because I felt like I was getting some spring back in that leg. I just don’t really understand what messed it up in my three attempts.”

When she went to shoot the ball, she asked former Olympic gold medalist Dennis Lewis for advice, but there was more frustration when she missed her first shot after coming close to the PB, ending up with 12.87 meters and 719 instead she had to settle for points .

But she finished the day rising in the 200 metres, taking first place with a time of 23.51 seconds and winning with 1,028 points.

“I wasn’t really lucky with the shot put,” she said. “I was close to my PB. I rotated my left leg and misfired in a weird accident and the last two I was a bit shy because I was afraid of getting contaminated again. It was annoying but encouraging. Still practical. I’m there.

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“The last time I ran the 200m was in Tokyo and I still had reservations. I went down quickly and then rushed into the corner. Once I got past the corner I felt good and kept running.

“It just comes back to that kind of mentality and that’s exactly why I’m here. It wasn’t planned earlier this year, but I have to qualify for the Commonwealth Games. I need to get out of here and prepare the score.”

Another Briton, Holly Mills, finished the day in 10th place, four points behind Johnson-Thompson.

Today’s performance in the men’s decathlon came when Swiss Simon Emmer jumped an extraordinary 8.45 meters – a distance that would have won every Olympic long jump competition since 2004.

Leading the men’s event ahead of Tokyo 2020 champion Damien Warner.