By Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber
DOHA (Reuters) – Katarina Johnson-Thompson clinched gold in the heptathlon with the year’s best performance after holding off the challenge of defending champion Nafissatou Thiam on Thursday to give Britain their second title at this year’s world championships.
The 26-year-old Johnson-Thompson finished 304 points ahead of the Belgian, who was on a three-year winning streak in the event, with Verena Preiner of Austria claiming bronze.
Having taken the lead on the first day of competition, Johnson-Thompson extended her advantage with a long jump of 6.77 metres – the best ever recorded in a women’s heptathlon – to take a 216-point lead over Thiam.
The Belgian, had briefly reclaimed the lead on the first day after the shot put but was dislodged from top spot when Johnson-Thompson ran a season’s best 23.08 seconds in the 200 metres.
After a personal best javelin throw of 43.93 metres, Johnson-Thompson entered the final event, the 800m, with a 137-point lead over Thiam.
She secured gold with a run of 2 minutes 07.26 seconds, lifting her points tally to a world leading 6,981 and breaking the British record set by Jessica Ennis-Hill when she won gold at the 2012 London Olympics.
“These whole two days have been so fast and because it has been at night it’s actually felt like a dream,” Johnson-Thompson told the BBC.
“I’ve just tried to compete, I’ve just tried to perform. I’ve just tried to beat myself. And I think I found a formula that works. I just want more.”
Johnson-Thompson fell short of the 7,000-point mark, something she says is one of her main career goals, but finished with the sixth-best heptathlon points haul of all time.
The 25-year-old Thiam, who walked away from her third attempt in the javelin, finished the 800m in 2:18.93, finishing 304 points behind Johnson-Thompson.
Johnson-Thompson said of her Belgian rival: “I witnessed her making 7,000 points and showing that it is doable and also a requirement in order to win. She’s raised the bar and I’m glad I’m able to follow and step up.”
Dina Asher-Smith had won the 200 metres on Wednesday to become the first British woman to claim a global sprint title.
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Ken Ferris)