Katarina Johnson-Thompson ‘grateful’ to be at Tokyo Olympics after injury battle

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Katarina Johnson-Thompson has revealed her injury battle to make it to Tokyo and insisted she is at peace after the devastating blow.

The 28-year-old needed surgery on a ruptured Achilles in December and was a major doubt for the Olympics.

She recovered but has managed just three competitions ahead of a much anticipated face-off with defending heptathlon champion Nafi Thiam.

The heptathlon starts on Wednesday with Johnson-Thompson insisting she is ready after her fitness fight.

She said: “I’ve worked so hard in the last eight months just to get to the start line so I’m really grateful to be here, grateful to be able to do what I do for a living, really grateful for my third Olympics.

“All things you take for granted normally and I’m really taking it in now.

“Getting on the plane to come to the Olympics is something that I took for granted in Rio, coming to the start line, putting on a Team GB kit, I’m just really, really grateful for everything.

“It’s been really tough. I’m at peace with that now and I don’t know when that happened but I am.

“I’m happy that I was able to get given the space to do that and go through that process as well. I’m a different person now, a different athlete now, Covid, the injury, cancellation of the event, all these different things.

Muller Indoor Grand Prix – Emirates Arena
Johnson-Thompson is the reigning world champion. (Ian Rutherford/PA)

“I feel at complete peace with myself. I’ve been through so much and this is another part of the story.

“I’ve always been positive that I was going to make it. I think at the start when it first happened as an athlete you go onto Google and try to self-diagnose and see the recovery time.

“Once I started talking to doctors and got a team around me of people who said: ‘It’s possible, and it’s going to be a long, hard process but it’s within the timeframe,’ that’s what I needed to hear.

“I’m so happy I’m here now, I’m at the start line. I feel like once I’m at the start line it’s down to me here and I trust myself in that respect.”

The reigning world and Commonwealth champion competed in the long jump at the British Grand Prix in Gateshead in July having also done two low-key meets in France.

She confirmed she is fully fit but, if a medal is out of reach, it will not be a disaster.

She said: “The gratitude is definitely something that is new. I feel the gratitude of me just being able to be here and compete and to be an Olympian is down to my injury, down to it getting taken away last year, through to Covid and a lot of different factors.

“But I feel like through my past experiences leading into Rio and leading into Beijing I was in a similar position to the one I’m in now.

“I didn’t have enough competition practice and I didn’t know how to handle that going into those competitions. Now I feel like I’m in a place where I can. I’m a stronger athlete for sure.

“I’ve had those experiences so I know what I need to do to get to my best prep, and I know not to panic at certain performances because I know how long it takes to get better.

“I know what needs to be done to get better as well. It’s a lot of different factors that give me confidence on the start line – I’m not defeated in any respect.

“There’s a chance I’m not going to medal, I said the same thing pre-Doha, but I’m going to give my absolute best performance and that’s all I care about.”

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