Tokyo Olympics: Britain's Katarina Johnson-Thompson withdraws injured from heptathlon

Katarina Johnson-Thompson has withdrawn from the Olympic heptathlon with a calf injury that caused her to pull up in the 200m.

The British world champion suffered a serious Achilles problem last year and had barely competed this year, but it was the new injury that was the issue.

She got up to finish the race but was then disqualified for leaving her lane.

Going into the 200m, the 28-year-old had slipped two places to fifth after finishing 15th in the shot put.

Johnson-Thompson started quickly but pulled up as she rounded the bend and went into the straight.

The Liverpudlian, who had heavy strapping on her right calf during the race, covered her face with her hands as she writhed in pain on the track.

After refusing to be taken off the track in a wheelchair, she picked herself up to hobble and jog over the line.

It is the latest blow for Britain's athletics team in Tokyo after sprinters Adam Gemili and Dina Asher-Smith were both badly hampered by injury problems.

Denise Lewis, who won heptathlon gold for Great Britain at the 2000 Olympics, said she thought competing on Thursday would have been "a massive stress" on Johnson-Thompson.

Johnson-Thompson is due to defend her world title in Oregon next year, while the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and European Championships in Munich also take place.

"I think she has to take stock and protect herself, not only physically but mentally," Lewis added.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson is consoled by her heptathlon rivals at Tokyo 2020
Johnson-Thompson was consoled by some of her heptathlon rivals at the finishing line

BBC trackside reporter Jeanette Kwakye said Johnson-Thompson did not want to speak to the media as she left the track.

"I think we all thought it was amazing to see her run in the hurdles but there was limping after the high jump and there was always going to be a lot of stress on the Achilles," Beijing 2008 Olympian Kwakye added.

Johnson-Thompson began the heptathlon superbly with her second fastest time ever to win her 100m hurdles heat in 13.27 seconds.

She lost ground in the high jump and shot put to stand on 2,886 points, 139 points behind defending champion Nafissatou Thiam's 3,025.

However, Johnson-Thompson was also pictured having treatment between jumps raising concerns she was still feeling the effects of the ruptured Achilles she suffered in December.

The Briton threw a season's best of 13.31m in the shot put to earn 748 points, which left her 45 points adrift of Thiam's fellow Belgian Noor Vidts in bronze-medal position.

That left Johnson-Thompson in a good position going into the 200m - one of her stronger events - before disaster struck.


Denise Lewis, Britain's 2000 Olympics women's heptathlon gold medallist

I'm just so gutted for her. She's worked so hard to get to this stage.

I think competing on Thursday would be a massive stress on that Achilles tendon, especially with everything that is coming up over the next few years - Worlds, Europeans and another Olympics.

I think she has to take stock and protect herself, not only physically but mentally.

Jessica Ennis-Hill, Britain's 2012 Olympics women's heptathlon gold medallist

She's been such a victim to the past 18 months. She had the best year of her life in 2019, she was ready to go. When you're in that position, going into an Olympic year, that's the best place you can be - you just need to ride through the winter, maintain that form, and you're at the Olympics.

But she's had that 18-month lay-off where it's really hard to maintain that, how hard you push with training. The event is so gruelling and it's ended up in injury. It's utterly, utterly devastating for her.

For the years that she's had in the sport, there's been some lows. It seems so unfair that she has to be in this position again.

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