Triumphant KJT leads a British one-two in the pentathlon

Johnson-Thompson and Emerson
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Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Niamh Emerson took gold and silver in the pentathlon at the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships

Scotland’s own Laura Muir and Liverpool’s own Katarina Johnson-Thompson secured a golden double for the home team on the opening evening of the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships.

Muir smashed her championship 3000m record by more than five seconds as she powered to the line in 8:30.61 to retain the first of the titles she won in Belgrade two years ago, having teed up the second defence by winning her 1500m heat earlier in the evening.

It was a momentous night for the hosts as 19-year-old Niamh Emerson took pentathlon silver behind Johnson-Thompson, and Melissa Courtney won 3000m bronze in a personal best of 8:38.22 behind Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen, whose long drive for home eventually earned her silver in 8:34.06.

Johnson-Thompson secured the first of the home golds with 4983 points, the fourth best total ever recorded, with Emerson, the world U20 heptathlon champion who took bronze behind her gold in last year’s Commonwealth Games, securing second place with a personal best of 4731. European 100m hurdles finalist Solene Ndama, 20, equalled the French record with 4723 and will contest the 60m hurdles later in the championships.

It was another composed and ultra-competitive performance from the 26-year-old world indoor and Commonwealth champion as she regained the title she had won in Prague four years earlier.

After three events Johnson-Thompson was ahead of her Prague schedule, which eventually earned her a British and championship record of 5000 points, and as she approached the final two events there was speculation that she might challenge the world record of 5013 set by Ukraine’s Nataliya Dobrynska in 2012.

That, however, would have required an outstanding long jump – and Johnson-Thompson had to be content with something slightly less, albeit a season’s best of 6.53m that sent her through to the concluding 800m with a total of 4006 points and a commanding lead of 202 points – giving her a cushion of just over 13 seconds.

The gold was there, but KJT pushed hard in the final, taking the lead at the bell and stretching down the back straight before winning in 2:09.13, taking more than three seconds off her indoor personal best.

The pentathlon competition resumed in the evening session minus fourth-placed Anouk Vetter of The Netherlands, winner of the shot put with 15.40m, who had to withdraw with injury.

Johnson-Thompson had taken three assured steps towards another title with her performance in the morning session, where she had equalled her season’s best in the 60m hurdles with 8.27, before moving into a lead she would never lose with a high jump of 1.96m, just a centimetre below her best, before setting a personal best of 13.15m in the shot put.

Emerson collapsed over the line, unsure of her result, before lighting up as the results came through. She had set personal bests in the shot put – 13.93m – and 800m, where she ran 2:12.56. Johnson-Thompson, prostrate with effort, smiled down the track at her floored compatriot.

It's been a great day, it's been amazing," said Johnson-Thompson although, ever the perfectionist, did find some fault on an otherwise unblemished day. "I was going to say I couldn't really ask for more, but I felt in the long jump I could have maybe gone a bit more. I was really happy with how it went overall."

In the stands, the Johnson-Thompson’s progress had been faithfully followed by a group of red-shirted supporters, all bearing the white letters KJT, and at least one doggedly waving the notice: “She comes from Liverpool”. KJT didn’t disappoint.

Muir had begun the evening facing a similar challenge to that of Jakob Ingebrigtsen earlier in the day. But while the 18-year-old Norwegian had only an hour and 20 minutes between his 1500m and 3000m heats – both of which he won to reach respective finals on Sunday and tomorrow – the Scot had a little more time to play with between her 1500m heat and 3000m final.

Two and a half hours before she toed the line in defence of her 3000m title she had won an unhelpfully swift 1500m heat in 4:09.29 – a fact that made her later performance all the more awesome.

World high jump champion Mariya Lasitskene was one of six athletes qualifying for the final with a clearance of 1.93 metres, along with Ukraine’s Yuliya Levchenko and Britain’s Morgan Lake.

Germany’s double European shot put champion Christina Schwanitz was one of four women to surpass the automatic qualifying mark of 18.20m, reaching 19.09m, with Aliona Dubitskaya of Belarus, who took bronze  behind her silver at last year’s European outdoors in Berlin, reaching 18.68m.

Lea Sprunger from Switzerland was fastest qualifier for tomorrow’s women’s 400m final in 51.90, the fastest European time run this year, ahead of Lithuania’s Agne Serksniene and Belgium’s Cynthia Bolingo Mbongo, who clocked respective national records of 52.33 and 52.37.

Karsten Warholm’s front-running victory in the 400m semi-finals, where he clocked 45.95, offers the prospect of gold tomorrow evening. But the Norwegian world and European 400m hurdles champion will have a task in hand to defeat Spain’s Oscar Husillos, winner of the other semifinal in 46.31.

Husillos is a man on a mission, having been belatedly disqualified for lane infringement at last year’s IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham after crossing the line first in 44.92 – which would have bettered Thomas Schoenlebe’s European record.