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Johnson-Thompson admits all she wants is starting chance in Paris

Liverpool’s 31-year-old heptathlon hero did it for the underdogs at last year’s World Championships

The Youth Sport Trust is the UK’s leading charity improving every young person’s education and development through sport and play.
The Youth Sport Trust is the UK’s leading charity improving every young person’s education and development through sport and play. (Beat Media Group)

By Abi Curran, Sportsbeat

From the brink of walking away entirely from athletics to regaining her world title in Budapest, now all Katarina Johnson-Thompson wants is a starting chance.

Liverpool’s 31-year-old heptathlon hero did it for the underdogs at last year’s World Championships and felt more weight on her shoulders than ever when many had written her off.

An Achilles rupture followed by crashing out of Tokyo in 2021 with a calf injury meant Johnson-Thompson had a point to prove last summer.

Prove it she did, but KJT is done with demonstrating in the search for her first Olympic medal.

She said: “I’m healthy, I’m happy, I’m in a place where I’ve not been for many years and that’s what I want from Paris, to stand on that starting line with a chance.

“I don’t feel like I’ve got anything to prove anymore, it’s just a really nice place to be in.

“I feel pressure when no one expects you to do anything more because that part has been quite sad in recent memory.

“When you do get that pressure on you, it’s quite a good thing because people expect you to do great things and it only emphasises your potential.

“The more people that want you to do well, the better you do is how I see it.

“I am the only one who is going to be left looking at my performance after Paris, so I don’t look a lot at external factors negatively.”

Johnson-Thompson set her stall out with an indoor shotput personal best at the UK Athletics Indoor Championships in February as she continues to inspire a new generation of talent, 12 years on from her Olympic debut.

Speaking at the Youth Sport Trust Conference Awards, sponsored by Sports Directory and The LEGO Group, she said: “I don’t know who I am without sport and that came from PE lessons doing high jump.

“From that young age I found an identity through it where I was known for being good at something.

“I started at such a young age to develop that identity but now when I look back I realise I don’t need anything else.

“I have a huge resume of different experiences, different challenges, some of my hardest moments that come through being an athlete.”

The Youth Sport Trust is the UK’s leading charity improving every young person’s education and development through sport and play.

Johnson-Thompson presented seven awards to schools, trusts and organisations across the country who work tirelessly to keep sport integral to young people’s development.

She added: “It felt great to present the awards tonight, it’s a really good evening and event.

“It’s what I do and how I’ve been brought up, youth development and all the competitions that I did through this organisation as a kid.

“It’s good to be here and be giving back.”

The Youth Sport Trust Annual Conference Awards celebrate schools, settings, trusts, and individuals who, working alongside Youth Sport Trust, have made a real and impactful change to the lives of young people. Find out how the Youth Sport Trust is building brighter futures for children through sport and play. https://www.youthsporttrust.org/