Katarina Johnson-Thompson insists she still has a way to go to match Sheffield’s Jessica Ennis-Hill, despite smashing her British record to land pentathlon gold at the European Indoor Championships in Prague.
The Liverpool athlete amassed 5,000 points, just shy of Ukrainian Nataliya Dobrynska’s world record of 5,013, to land the first major title of her career in commanding fashion at the O2 Arena.
Ennis-Hill’s mark of 4,965 points was comfortably eclipsed, though.
If there were any doubts left that this 22-year-old was destined for greatness they were blown out of the water by a performance of utter domination. She finished a huge 304 points clear of the field - only 282 separated the rest.
That her immediate reaction to becoming only the second woman in history to reach 5,000 points was tears of disappointment rather than joy spoke volumes about her potential and her own expectations.
After a personal best in the 60metres hurdles and championship records in the high jump and long jump, she went into the 800m needing to clock two minutes 11.86 seconds to break the world record. She crossed the line in 2mins 12.78secs.
Speaking with tears in her eyes shortly 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.
“I was gutted, instant regret,” she added later when asked her emotions when she saw the clock.
Ennis-Hill congratulated her compatriot on Twitter, saying: “Well done Kat!! Amazing performance! Sad to see my record go but couldn’t have gone to a more deserving athlete!”
The Olympic heptathlon champion is due to return to the sport this summer following the birth of her first child and the scheduled showdown between the pair at the heptathlon in Gotzis, Austria, at the end of May is a mouth-watering one.
And, when it comes to the seven-event heptathlon, Johnson-Thompson knows Ennis-Hill is still on top. The Sheffield athlete’s PB is 6955, Johnson-Thompson’s 6682.
“I wouldn’t call myself an equal,” said Johnson-Thompson, whose motivation has been fuelled by last year’s injury frustrations. “This is pentathlon, heptathlon’s seven events.
“I just need to concentrate on each event and accumulate a good score and I hopefully won’t flop in the 800m in Gotzis.”
Great Britain finished the opening day in Prague with three medals, courtesy of a shock silver for Lucy Hatton and bronze for Serita Solomon in the 60m hurdles.
Hatton and Solomon both ran their third PBs of the day, the former coming home in 7.90 and the latter in 7.93.
Today, European leader Seren Bundy-Davies goes for a medal over 400m while Laura Muir will also eye a podium spot in the women’s 3,000m.
Ten things about Katarina:
At age nine, she rejected an audition with the Royal Ballet School to pursue an athletics career.
Her mother Tracey is a former Moulin Rouge showgirl.
She is half-Bahamian and spent the first year of her life living in the Bahamas.
She loves drinking espressos.
She prepares for competitions by playing Candy Crush, and has confessed to fixing the time on her iPad to get more lives.
Her least favourite discipline is the shot-put.
She is a big Liverpool fan and once owned a shirt with Emile Heskey’s name on the back.
Her favourite singers are Beyonce and Nicki Minaj.
She does not wear gold, silver or bronze nail varnish for superstitious reasons.
She was too upset to watch last year’s European Championships on TV after missing out due to injury.