Katarina Johnson-Thompson on Thursday deposed her great rival Nafissatou Thiam as heptathlon world champion on a night when Salwa Eid Naser’s victory in the 400m caused shock waves.
The 21-year-old — who left 2017 champion Phyllis Francis trailing in her wake — recorded the third-fastest time in history of 48.14 seconds.
Only East Germany’s Marita Koch and Jarmila Kratochvilova of the former Czechoslovakia had run faster more than 30 years ago.
In doing so she became the first athlete to beat hot favorite Shaunae Miller-Uibo in over two years over both 200m and 400m.
Naser said afterward that a change of tactics had aided her.
“I’m used to chasing,” she said. “When you watch my race normally, I chase. Today, I wanted to be chased and it worked.”
Johnson-Thompson was unrelenting in her pursuit of gold, finally taking the scalp of Thiam, who was burdened by an elbow injury.
The 26-year-old eventually cruised to the title, rounding off the event in style by winning the 800m.
Johnson-Thompson capped a perfect two days by beating Jessica Ennis-Hill’s British record of 6,955 points, set during the London 2012 Olympics, by 36 points.
As the enormity of her achievement sank in, Johnson-Thompson clasped her face with both hands in disbelief and fell to the track.
“It has not settled in,” she said. “I was there competing at the Olympics in 2012 and was there when she [Ennis-Hill] broke her own record, so it is unbelievable to me that I passed that score.”
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