‘I started the year in a wheelchair and I was not willing to end my Olympic campaign the same way’: Katarina Johnson-Thompson releases emotional statement after heartbreaking Olympic heptathlon withdrawal due to Achilles injury in middle of the 200m track
Katarina Johnson-Thompson has revealed her ‘heartbreak’ after her withdrawal from the Olympic women’s heptathlon running due to injury in an emotional statement on social media.
The Team GB star, who came into the Tokyo Games as the reigning world champion in the event, was in contention for a medal when an pre-existing calf injury reappeared mid-way through the 200m side of the event, meaning she has to withdraw from the Olympics.
The Liverpool-born athlete has been struggling with the injury throughout the entire of 2021 and began the calendar year in a wheelchair, with Johnson-Thompson revealing it was a ‘miracle’ to make it to the starting line.
She captioned her statement with ‘going to take some time to process and heal my body & spirit’ and admits ‘it will take a lot of time for me to process this reality’.
The statement began: ‘I don’t know where to begin in trying to explain how I feel. Only a handful of people understand what I’ve been through.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson has made an emotional statement after her Olympic heartbreak
The Team GB star collapsed in the middle of her heptathlon bid with an Achilles problem
‘Even a smaller amount understand the mental and physical challenges I’ve faced trying to make it back in time through a pandemic after my Achilles ruptured the back end of December. I started the year in a wheelchair and I was not willing to end my Olympic campaign the same way.
‘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 & 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 (as f***) 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.
‘I’ve sacrificed so much, moving my entire life to France 5 years ago away from my family and friends. 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.
‘I appreciate everyone’s kind messages. Thank you x.’
Despite her pre-Games fitness concerns, Johnson-Thompson had been in the mix for a medal and sat in fifth position, just 45 points off Belgium’s Noor Vidts in the bronze position heading into the 200m event.
The 28-year-old picked herself to bravely hobble over the 200m race line after the injury
But the injury blow saw her finish last in her race and she was disqualified for venturing out of her lane anyway, despite hobbling over the line in heroic scenes.
The 28-year-old evoked memories of Derek Redmond’s heartbreaking hobble at Barcelona ’92 by refusing the wheelchair on standby and bravely continuing on to finish the race.
She is the third Team GB athletics star to suffer injury heartbreak at these Games, with sprint stars Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Gemili pulling out of their individual events.
Dina Asher-Smith (left) and Adam Gemili (right) are other Team GB stars with Tokyo injury woes
Asher-Smith, who like Johnson-Thompson was a strong contender to win her events following success at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, failed to qualify for the 100m women’s final due to a hamstring problem.
The Team GB poster girl pulled out of the women’s 200m event but did return to help the nation’s relay team on Wednesday.
Gemili, meanwhile, also suffered 200m heartbreak by pulling up just three strides into his heat race after bursting out of the blocks.
More to follow.