Katarina Johnson-Thompson opens up on ‘heartbreaking’ Olympic exit

Katarina Johnson-Thompson opens up on ‘heartbreaking’ Olympic exit
The reigning world champion was forced to pull out of the competition with a calf injury

Katarina Johnson-Thompson has spoken of her heartbreak after being forced to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics with injury.

The world champion pulled out of the heptathlon on Wednesday after suffering an injury to her right calf in the 200m.

She ruptured her left Achilles in December but fears she had suffered a reoccurrence were soon eased, despite the 28-year-old’s Olympics being over.

Johnson-Thompson refused treatment and a wheelchair on the track to pick herself up and finish the race, limping over the line, but was disqualified for leaving her lane after falling.

“I don’t know where to begin in trying to explain how I feel,” she said in a statement on Twitter. “Only a handful of people understand what I’ve been through. 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 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.”

Johnson-Thompson was spotted having treatment between jumps in the high jump on Wednesday morning and seemed to be limping then.

She fought back from the serious injury and surgery in December and had downplayed her medal chances but was sitting fifth after three events before disaster struck with around 100m to go.

It was due to be her first full heptathlon since winning the world title in Doha in 2019 due to the pandemic and injury.