Aug 8, 2018
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European Championships 2018: Katarina Johnson-Thompson faces Nafissatou Thiam

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European Championships 2018: Katarina Johnson-Thompson faces Nafissatou Thiam

Johnson-Thompson and Thiam are assembly on the European Championships for the primary time
Athletics European Championships
Venue: Olympic Stadium, Berlin Dates: 7-12 August
Protection: Stay throughout BBC TV, BBC Radio 5 reside and sports activities further plus the BBC Sport web site with additional protection on BBC iPlayer, Pink Button, Linked TVs and cellular app.

Three years in the past, as Katarina Johnson-Thompson took European Indoor Championships gold, Nafissatou Thiam was little greater than a footnote.

Thiam – then 20 – was second in Prague, however never seriously threatened to halt Johnson-Thompson’s advance on the top prize.

After securing victory, Johnson-Thompson was extra disillusioned by lacking out on the pentathlon world report than involved by the specter of the Belgian pupil carrying silver on the step under.

A brand new world order has been ushered in since then.

Thiam is now Olympic and world heptathlon champion. She is certainly one of solely 4 girls to surpass 7,000 factors within the occasion. On the finish of 2017, she was voted because the world’s excellent feminine athlete.

Thiam (left) and Johnson-Thompson (centre), with Czech bronze medallist Eliska Klucinova, on the 2015 European Indoor Championships in Prague

With Germany’s Carolin Schafer and the Netherlands’ Anouk Vetter – world silver and bronze medallists respectively – within the subject on the European Championships in Berlin, Johnson-Thompson, 25, faces a struggle to even make the rostrum when the heptathlon competitors begins on Thursday.

Like the remainder, Johnson-Thompson, lengthy heralded because the “golden woman” of British athletics, is now measured in opposition to Thiam’s gold commonplace.

Toni Minichiello, who coached Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill to world and Olympic triumphs, says this largely surprising turnaround comes partly from Thiam’s unconventional improvement as a multi-eventer.

“Normally the advance comes within the throws whereas the jumps are extra pure and the dash velocity develops over time,” he advised BBC Sport.

“Thiam has been vice-versa. She got here in with superb throws and has developed in different areas as an alternative. She has damaged the mould in that sense.

“She has all the time had a few occasions which might be absolute monsters the place she actually cashes in large factors.

“Now she can be a really competent lengthy jumper and dash hurdler. She could lose a bit within the 200m and 800m, however she greater than makes up for that with a 1.90m-plus excessive bounce, 50m-plus javelin and 15m-plus shot put.”

So how does Johnson-Thompson examine in a discipline-by-discipline breakdown?

100m hurdles

Private greatest 2018 greatest
Thiam 13.34secs 13.45
Johnson-Thompson 13.29 13.54

Again in 2012, Johnson-Thompson was practically a second faster than Thiam in heptathlon’s opening occasion. Now, Thiam’s gradual enchancment means the distinction between the pair is negligible.

“Katarina is the marginally higher hurdler, however not by a lot anymore,” stated Minichiello.

“She does not get the identical factors head begin that she as soon as did. That benefit now not exists.”

Excessive bounce

Private greatest 2018 greatest
Thiam 2.01m 2.01
Johnson-Thompson 1.98 1.93 (indoor)

This was the occasion that price Johnson-Thompson at London 2017. Her failure to clear increased than 1.80m left her irrevocably off the tempo within the heptathlon.

Six days later, she confirmed one thing nearer to her greatest type as she cleared 1.95m to complete fifth within the particular person occasion.

However Thiam reached new heights this yr, breaking the two-metre barrier for the primary time with a leap of two.01m on the Gotzis assembly in Austria.

“They each jumped 1.98m in Rio 2016, however Katarina will not be in that form of type this season with a better of 1.91m outside,” stated Minichiello.

“Thiam can take possibly 70-odd factors (equal to roughly 6cm higher) out of Johnson-Thompson right here and eat up any floor she has misplaced within the hurdles.

“A bounce of 1.92m to 1.95m needs to be minimal for Kat to remain within the sport and restrict the injury.”

Shot put

Private greatest 2018 greatest
Thiam 15.52m (indoor) / 15.29 15.52 (indoor) / 15.29
Johnson-Thompson 13.14 12.68 (indoor)/ 12.24

One other self-discipline the place the 2 are apparently getting in reverse instructions.

Whereas Thiam has added 5cm to her outside private greatest this season, Johnson-Thompson has not damaged 13m since 2016.

“That is an erratic – and doubtlessly very expensive – occasion for Johnson-Thompson,” stated Minichiello.

“Three metres, which might simply be the distinction between the pair, is price 200 factors.”


Private greatest 2018 greatest
Thiam 24.40secs 24.61
Johnson-Thompson 22.79 23.56

Thiam clocked 25.10 seconds within the 200m at Rio 2016 and nonetheless had sufficient in the remainder of her programme to sensationally defeat defending Olympic champion Ennis-Hill.

Johnson-Thompson’s coaching base is within the French metropolis of Montpellier, the place she works in the identical group as Frenchman Kevin Mayer, the Olympic decathlon silver medallist

She has improved considerably since then. Johnson-Thompson is best, however has not strengthened this occasion since switching her coaching base from Liverpool to France after Rio 2016.

“Thiam has improved her rating by one other 50 factors since 2016 by getting right down to the mid-24s,” stated Minichiello.

“Katarina has been a 22-second 200m runner for 5 seasons now.

“This is a chance to earn 100-150 factors again on Thiam. She has to maximise this opportunity by placing a long way between her and Thiam.”

Lengthy bounce

Private greatest 2018 greatest
Thiam 6.62m 6.62
Johnson-Thompson 6.93 (indoor)/6.92 6.70

Johnson-Thompson’s bounce of 6.93m again in 2015 on the Birmingham Grand Prix set a brand new indoor British report, however she has struggled to duplicate it when multi-eventing.

Johnson-Thompson units nationwide report

Within the World Championships later that yr in Beijing, she fouled out without registering a jump.

Thiam continued her regular development by eking one other 5cm further out of her private greatest in Gotzis in Might.

“Johnson-Thompson jumped 6.70m on the Anniversary Video games in July, however that, as soon as once more, was when she was recent,” stated Minichiello.

“It has not been the form of distance that she is leaping after day certainly one of a heptathlon competitors. It’s the fifth occasion and fatigue performs a component.

“Having stated that, following on from the 200m, it’s one other likelihood for her to take some factors out of Thiam and switch the screw.”


Private greatest 2018 greatest
Thiam 59.32m 47.20
Johnson-Thompson 42.01 40.46

Thiam is unmatched as the very best javelin thrower in Belgian historical past. She has registered distances in extra of 50m since she was a teen.

There are some extra demons lurking on this occasion for Johnson-Thompson, who noticed her Rio 2016 campaign flounder with a best effort of 36.36m.

“Do not’ be fooled by Thiam’s throw of 47.20m in Gotzis this yr,” stated Minichiello.

“The problem with Gotzis – an Austrian alpine city – is the wind coming off the mountains.

“In 2017 the wind was behind the sphere they usually all threw very far, with Thiam registering her private better of 59.32m.

“This time there was a robust crosswind that dragged the javelin down. Within the shelter of the Olympic Stadium in Berlin it is going to be a distinct outcome.

“Katarina solely threw 39.98 on the British Championships and I believe it is going to be a few 10m distinction – which equates to about 200 factors.”


Private greatest 2018 greatest
Thiam 2:15.24 2:18.62
Johnson-Thompson 2:07.64 2:16.63 (indoors)

The ultimate occasion and, with athletes in a position to work out what they should do to realize or shield a medal, the 800m can turn out to be very tactical.

“Private bests generally is a little deceptive right here as heptathletes run to necessity moderately than their most,” stated Minichiello.

“Thiam did not run as quick as she might have within the 800m in London as a result of there was no necessity to do it. She produced 2.21, however is able to 2.15.

“KJT has latched onto different individuals up to now and, if somebody paces it for her, she is able to working seven or eight seconds faster than Thiam.

“A seven-second distinction is price simply over 100 factors.”


Private greatest 2018 greatest
Thiam 7,013 6,806
Johnson-Thompson 6,691 6,255

By then although, Thiam might be out of sight.

“Katarina wants to enhance her mentality and consistency, however the large factor is that her throws are usually not robust sufficient to compete with Thiam,” stated Minichiello.

“The hole that Katarina builds up in her large occasions – hurdles and 200m – will not be sufficient to negate Thiam’s javelin, shot and excessive bounce.

“Due to the best way the factors system works, these dash occasions do not provide the identical alternative for landslide factors wins over your rivals.

“It’s a onerous factor for Katarina to beat.”

BBC Sport – Athletics

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