Katarina Johnson-Thompson wins remarkable heptathlon gold at World Championship 2023

The Liverpool Harriers athlete beat red hot favourite Anna Hall of the USA by 20 points.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson of Team GB celebrates her win as Anna Hall lays on the ground at the 2023 World Athletics Championship. Image: Steph Chambers/Getty ImagesKatarina Johnson-Thompson of Team GB celebrates her win as Anna Hall lays on the ground at the 2023 World Athletics Championship. Image: Steph Chambers/Getty Images
Katarina Johnson-Thompson of Team GB celebrates her win as Anna Hall lays on the ground at the 2023 World Athletics Championship. Image: Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Liverpool’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson won a surprise gold in the heptathlon at the World Athletics Championship in Budapest, Hungary, after a remarkable comeback from a career-threatening Achilles rupture.

The Liverpool Harriers athlete won gold at the 2019 World Athletics Championship in Doha but came into this tournament off the back of a very difficult few years with injury, and a change of coach.

However, after a brilliant end to day one in Budapest and a personal best in the javelin on day two, the 30-year-old beat red hot favourite Anna Hall of the USA into second place, finishing with 6,740 points, just 20 ahead of her rival.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson with her World Athletics Championship gold medal. Images: David Ramos/Getty ImagesKatarina Johnson-Thompson with her World Athletics Championship gold medal. Images: David Ramos/Getty Images
Katarina Johnson-Thompson with her World Athletics Championship gold medal. Images: David Ramos/Getty Images

Johnson-Thompson went into the final event of the heptathlon, the 800m, needing to finish within three seconds of Hall to win the gold medal. She did so with a personal best time of two minutes 5.63 seconds and was clearly overcome with emotion as she crossed the line.

Anouk Vetter of the Netherlands took the bronze, with 6,501 points.

The road back from injury: Johnson-Thompson ruptured her Achilles in 2020 but made it back in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 only to suffer a calf injury in the 200m, forcing her to quit after day one.

The defence of her Commonwealth title last year saw her return to the podium but a global medal puts her back among the world’s best ahead of next year’s Paris Olympics.

How she won in Budapest: Johnson-Thompson labelled the first day as one of the most gruelling she has experienced following a delayed start after a storm. But, following a slow start in the 100m hurdles and needing three attempts to clear 1.80m in the high jump, she settled. A throw of 13.64m in the shot put and victory in her 200m heat in 23.48s left her 93 points adrift of leader Hall overnight.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson of Team GB celebrates her win as Anna Hall lays on the ground at the 2023 World Athletics Championship. Image: Steph Chambers/Getty ImagesKatarina Johnson-Thompson of Team GB celebrates her win as Anna Hall lays on the ground at the 2023 World Athletics Championship. Image: Steph Chambers/Getty Images
Katarina Johnson-Thompson of Team GB celebrates her win as Anna Hall lays on the ground at the 2023 World Athletics Championship. Image: Steph Chambers/Getty Images

She surged into the lead on Sunday morning when a leap of 6.54m in the long jump put her 19 points ahead of Hall. She then launched a personal best of 46.14m in the javelin as Hall dropped to third and gave Johnson-Thompson a 26-point advantage over Vetter.

Ultimately, it came down to the final 800m on Sunday evening at the National Athletics Centre, with Johnson-Thompson smashing her personal best to clock two minutes 05.63 seconds and finishing just behind Hall in the last heat.