Heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson is rapidly emerging as the next global sporting superstar. Despite her tender years, Katarina has enjoyed a phenomenal rise to prominence as the young girl from Liverpool has progressed from World Junior Champion in 2012 to being ranked the world’s best athlete in 2014. Currently considered one of the 10 most marketable sportspeople in the world, labelled as ‘the future of athletics’ and spearheading Team GB’s quest for Gold at 2016’s Rio Olympics, the sky is the limit for KJT!
With an innate love for music and being active, Katarina was participating in dance lessons from when she could first walk as her mother was a professional dancer but KJT soon found her heart belonged to sport. Having flirted with a variety of sports, Katarina first recognised her talent for athletics at primary school after breaking a 29 year record in the high jump with no training. Having persuaded her Mum to take her to the local athletics club, Katarina discovered her love for the heptathlon through her desire to keep up as many different disciplines as possible. In 2008 she began working with athletics coach Mike Holmes, and the pair have not looked back since.
In 2009 Katarina won Gold in the Heptathlon at the World Youth Championships, yet it wasn’t until 2012 that the wider sporting world started to notice KJT. Entering her first ever senior competition, the London 2012 Olympics, Katarina was a novice teenager who rose to the occasion and captured the public’s imagination; setting a new Personal Best and British Junior Record to finish 15th. In the same year she also became the World Junior Champion, was a recipient of a British Athletics Writers Association Award and received a nomination for the European Athletics Rising Star Award.
Continuing her meteoric rise, 2013 saw Katarina build on her success of the previous year when she claimed the European U23 title and win her first ever Diamond League long jump competition in front of a sell-out crowd at the London Anniversary Games. She then finished 5th at the IAAF World Championships, surpassing all expectations, rounding off her first year as a professional athlete.
Katarina’s debut senior indoor championship in 2014 saw her become the National Indoor Champion in both the long jump and the high jump, setting a new National record in the process. Producing another impeccable performance, Katarina won a Silver medal later that year in the long jump at the World Indoor Championships. Unsurprisingly, Katarina then won on debut at the prestigious IAAF combined events challenge in Gotzis, and finished the year with another victory at another debut, becoming National Long Jump Champion.
Despite her young age, Katarina Johnson-Thompson is established as a world leading athlete. Such talent was again evident in 2015 when she broke her own National High Jump record, as well as setting a new National Long Jump record. Katarina was then crowned the European Indoor Champion after winning the Pentathlon on yet another competition debut, this time becoming only the second woman ever to score 5000+ points.
Heartbreakingly for Katarina, her 2015 season ended when in 2nd place at the World Championships and well positioned to take the gold medal with her strongest event – the long jump still to come, a judge ruled controversially that she had overstepped the long jump mark by the narrowest of margins. Despite the contentious decision, the verdict remained and as such meant that Katarina painfully would no longer be challenging for the World Championship crown. Using this fraction as fuel in training, Katarina once again showcased her ability as she put in outstanding performances on her sole Diamond League appearance in 2016 to once again win at the London Anniversary Games long jump on the eve of Rio 2016.
At the Rio Olympics, Katarina gave the world a glimpse of the potential that is to come as she set a new Heptathlon World Record and National Record in High Jump by clearing an astonishing height of 1.98m. Remarkably, this jump of 1.98m was greater than that which the individual High Jump Olympic gold medal was won, highlighting just what the future can hold. Frustratingly for Katarina, the two throwing events did not go as had hoped meaning that she finished 6th overall but when factoring in that at her age, the likes of Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis-Hill had not competed in an Olympics, Katarina really is the most exciting female talent in British sport.
Articulate, stunning and with a natural flair both on and off track that endears her to many, the 6ft Liverpudlian has an exciting future in store. Currently residing in Liverpool with her two sausage dogs, Chorizo and Bronx, Katarina is currently a leading global ambassador for Nike.