Katarina Johnson-Thompson interview: ‘I’m not an athlete you can depend on – but I’m not finished’


Tokyo, she says, was not another case of two steps back after one step forward; it was simply “a really bad thing that happened”. One that was out of her control.

She noticeably kept a low profile in the months after, twice going on holiday, renovating a house in Liverpool, walking her two dachshund dogs Bronx and Chorizo, and undergoing surgery on the problematic calf that ruined everything in Japan.

Instead of viewing her Tokyo experience negatively, she insists she takes confidence from being able to fight back from an operation on her ruptured Achilles and three months of missed training to even make the Olympic start line.

It was during those gloomy times of uncertainty and rehabilitation that the “robustness and resilience” trumpeted by Peters was so needed, not now.

“I’m at peace with what happened,” she says. “There wasn’t anything I can learn from Tokyo. The thing that I’ve taken out of the year is that I overcame an injury. A few months after an Achilles rupture I high jumped over my own head height and ran my second ever fastest time [over 100m hurdles].

“But there is nothing positive that comes from what then happened in Tokyo. It’s not going to inspire me to do better. It was a really bad thing that happened, but the good thing is I’m over it.”

‘I’m not an athlete that you can depend on’

Things are never so straightforward with Johnson-Thompson. When her Montpellier-based coach Bertrand Valcin took up a new role with the French Athletics Federation after the Tokyo Olympics, she was left seeking someone new to work with.

The outcome was a move to Florida in November to work under Petros Kyprianou, alongside his group of international multi-eventers and jumpers.

The life she had worked so hard to build in Montpellier — her town centre apartment, her favourite coffee shop, her friends — was dismantled and moved across the Atlantic, where she knows no one.

“I learned to love my life in Montpellier,” she says. “It was so hard for me to settle down there but I did, and I love that place. It’s very sad that I had to leave.

“I will miss it for sure. It’s sad that it’s just memories now. That seems to be my life, every Olympic cycle I start again.”


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