Olympics tips: Katarina Johnson-Thompson ready to capture Heptathlon Gold
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | July 29, 2016
Team GB have two strong contenders in the Heptathlon at the Olympics, with defending champion Jessica Ennis-Hill a firm favourite with the bookmakers to retain her crown in Rio de Janeiro ahead of young pretender Katarina Johnson-Thompson.
Ennis-Hill: “I don’t feel like the favourite”
Competing in seven track and field athletics events over two days of competition on 12-13 August, these two British women are not only expected to make the rostrum, but go head-to-head for the top prize.
Reigning Olympics and world champion Ennis-Hill, 30, has been keen to downplay her achievements and status as Coral’s 6/4 market leader, while 23-year-old compatriot Johnson-Thompson caught the eye with some impressive performances in individual field events at the recent London Anniversary Games.
“There are quite a few girls who have upped their game this year,” Ennis-Hill said after also competing in the sprint hurdles and long jump at the same Diamond League meeting. “I don’t feel like the favourite.”
Up against 100m hurdles specialists, Ennis-Hill made the final but failed to make an impression against the elite and was then outperformed in the sandpit by Johnson-Thompson, who also beat 2015 World Athletics Championships long jump Silver medallist Shara Proctor.
Beijing ghosts can be laid to rest
During the world Heptathlon event 12 months ago in Beijing, Johnson-Thompson’s bid for a podium place crumbled when she failed to register a single legal jump, missing out on adding any points to her final tally from that discipline.
Given her improvement since, this can be put down to inexperience or nerves. Johnson-Thompson just has to keep it together when taking off the board on the right side of the Plasticine.
Sticking with jumping disciplines, Johnson-Thompson setting an outdoor personal best of 1m 95cm in the high jump at the London Anniversary Games was equally impressive to pipping Proctor in the sandpit.
If learning from her errors at the last major championships in China 12 months ago, and the form of those field events in London is taken forward and replicated at the Olympics, then Johnson-Thompson thus represents an attractive 2/1 alternative punt to Ennis-Hill for the Heptathlon.
“Gold not easy for anyone”
“Jess is such a strong competitor I know she’ll do better than that at the Olympics,” Johnson-Thompson told press in London following the Anniversary Games long jump, where she recorded a season’s best effort of 6m 84cm.
“Gold will not be an easy job for anyone and I’ve got to step up to the competition. I am going to Rio with a chance of a medal, it’s serious now.”
Ennis-Hill, who regained the world Heptathlon title just 13 months after giving birth to her son, is the established face of this athletics event, so cannot be discounted or underestimated – either by punters or her competition.
Johnson-Thompson is on an upward curve, however, and that means if you’re having a bet on the Olympics, then you let her sneak under the radar at your peril.
Theisen-Eaton to miss out on top spot again?
Glasgow Commonwealth Games champion Brianne Theisen-Eaton, who holds the world lead points tally for this multi-discipline sport this season, completes the likely medal picture as a 3/1 chance for glory.
Beaten by Ennis-Hill in at the Beijing World Championships by more than 100 points, the Canadian is perhaps the Heptathlon contender with the most to prove in what is effectively a three-way dance for top honours.
With Dutch talent Dafne Schippers solely focusing on the women’s sprints these days, and the other members of the Netherlands contingent – Nadine Broersen and namesake Nadine Visser – nowhere near the market principals on paper, a British one-two in the Heptathlon is more than possible.
You’ll find more athletics tips for the Olympics in the run-up to and during the Games on Coral’s dedicated page.