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Tokyo Olympics: Katarina Johnson-Thompson opens up about her ‘miracle’ and ‘heartbreak’ at the Games

Team GB athlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson has spoken about the “mental and physical challenges” she faced to get to this summer’s Games, following her injury heartbreak at the Tokyo Olympics.

The 28-year-old world champion from Liverpool pulled out of the heptathlon in Japan after suffering an injury to her right calf in the 200m.

She refused treatment and completed the race with a slow jog but was disqualified because she left the lane.

In a statement on Twitter on Thursday she said that making it over the finish line was a “miracle” after rupturing her left Achilles in December.

She wrote: “I don’t know where to begin in trying to explain how I feel.

“Only a handful of people understand what I’ve been through. Even a smaller amount understand the mental and physical challenges I’ve faced trying to make it back in time through a pandemic.”

She said she “started the year in a wheelchair and I was not willing to end my Olympic campaign the same way”, adding “I truly believed I was capable of winning a medal” despite having missed up to half a year of training.

Johnson-Thompson’s Olympic dream ended on Wednesday after she dropped on the track. Pic: AP

The athlete said it would have been easy to have withdrawn and blamed injury, but described herself as a “fighter” and though the outcome is “heartbreaking”, she could “rest easy knowing I applied myself every single day and pushed until I couldn’t push anymore”.

She added: “I hate that my story has played out in more heartbreak. I’ve been knocked so many times and got back up, but it will take a lot of time for me to process this reality.

“I appreciate everyone’s kind messages. Thank you x.”

Katarina Johnson-Thompson, of Britain, reacts after falling during a heat in the heptathlon women's 200-meter. Pic: AP
Johnson-Thompson refused treatment and a wheelchair on the track to pick herself up and finish the race. Pic: AP

Team GB’s athletics squad has been hit by injuries.

Dina Asher-Smith pulled out of the 200m having failed to make the 100m final. She revealed she had been battling a serious hamstring injury suffered in the trials in June.

And Adam Gemili also tore his hamstring at the last minute before his 200m heat and walked the race.

Competitors in Tokyo have also opened up about the issue of mental health.

US gymnast Simone Biles, considered by many the greatest gymnast ever, won bronze in the women’s balance beam final in a dramatic return to the Games on Tuesday after pulling out of the women’s team final last week, citing a desire to protect her mental health.

After his gold medal in the 100m breaststroke, Team GB’s Adam Peaty told Sky News how he really needed a long break after this Olympics.

He said that COVID had taught him the importance of looking after his mental health as well as his physique.

“We are seeing the strain on both body and soul coming right to the fore this summer,” said Sky’s Tom Parmenter at the Games.

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