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HEPTATHLON: Liverpool girl edges out closes rival in dress reherasal

Katarina Johnson-Thompson admits it would be a “disappointment” not to mark her “breakthrough year” with gold at the Commonwealth Games.

The 21-year-old Liverpudlian edged out Brianne Theisen-Eaton at the Commonwealth dress rehearsal Hypo Meeting in Gotzis at the start of the month.

Anticipating another tight tussle with the Canadian in Scotland, Johnson-Thompson is hopeful she can complete her coming of age this summer.

“I think this is a breakthrough year for me, a few years ago I felt like I was totally to new to all this,” she said, after being confirmed in Team England’s 129-strong athletics squad on Monday.

“I came away from London with people telling me it would always be about Rio and that I had to bide my time.

“Rio would always have been my target, but hopefully the way I’m progressing I’ll be on track for that, as well as 2020.

“If I can just step up and win hopefully my first international medal this year, I can take it through and hopefully do well in Tokyo, Rio and London.

“It would definitely be a disappointment (not to win gold in Glasgow), especially going in on top.

“The thing to remember is that Brianne is a great athlete, so she’s going to raise the level and I’ve got to do the same.

“I think we will both be competitive, so it’s just about handling that.”

Johnson-Thompson is ready to shoulder the pressure of Britain’s fine heptathlon history, keen to add to the tradition - but also pick the brains of her predecessors.

Reigning champion Jessica Ennis-Hill, who is missing the Glasgow Games due to pregnancy, is aiming to return to defend her Olympic title at Rio 2016, while Johnson-Thompson can also draw on the likes of Denise Lewis and Kelly Sotherton.

Humbled by Daley Thompson labelling her “the future” of athletics, Johnson-Thompson said she aims to be honoured rather than burdened by the praise.

“I remember reading that, with him saying ‘I don’t want to put pressure on the girl but I’m going to do it anyway’, but then he just said all these lovely things about me,” said Johnson-Thompson.

“It’s lovely for a double Olympic champion to say things like that, especially with Daley being such a big figure in Britain.

“I don’t think it’s a burden, it’s an honour that he would say that about me to be honest.

“I’m very aware of the great pressure of the heptathlon heritage, but I think it’s a good thing I’ve got those role models there for me to look up to.

“Hopefully I can carry on that tradition.”

 

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