Katarina Johnson-Thompson broke Jessica Ennis-Hill’s British record to land pentathlon gold at the European Indoor Championships in Prague – but her immediate reaction was devastation at falling agonisingly short of the world record.
The Liverpool athlete amassed 5,000 points, just shy of Ukrainian Nataliya Dobrynska’s haul of 5,013, to land the first major title of her career in commanding fashion at the O2 Arena, in what was her first pentathlon for three years.
She finished a huge 304 points clear of the field – and that her reaction to such an achievement was “instant regret” spoke volumes about Johnson-Thompson’s potential and her own expectations.
Speaking with tears in her eyes shorty after the race, she said: “I’ve been tearing my brains out these last couple of weeks thinking I could get it (the world record) so to come so close, yeah I’m disappointed.”
Johnson-Thompson lay second after the first three events, but delivered a huge 6.89m in the long jump, another championship record, to effectively guarantee gold and put her within touching distance of Ennis-Hill’s mark.
Needing to clock at least 2mins 11.86secs over 800m for the world record, Johnson-Thompson drifted off the pace and crossed the line in 2:12.78.
“I was gutted, instant regret,” added Johnson-Thompson.
“If someone had said to me, ‘You’ve got 5000 points and a gold medal’, at the beginning of the day I would have taken it, but because everything was going so well and I was so close, I think that’s what made me so sad.”