Johnson-Thompson lands pentathlon gold in Birmingham

Katarina Johnson-Thompson
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Three years after winning the European indoor pentathlon title, Katarina Johnson-Thompson repeated on the global stage at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham

Europe celebrated a night of glory on the second evening of the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham as Great Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson won the pentathlon in front of her home fans and then shot putter Anita Marton brought Hungary their first ever gold in the history of these championships. 

And to her disbelief, Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji came through to win bronze in the 60m, beating some of the best sprinters in the world. 

Johnson-Thompson ends medal drought with pentathlon gold

Three years after being crowned European indoor champion, Katarina Johnson-Thompson is back on top of the podium.

“I cannot believe it. I have dreamed of this for so long and to come here and then to do it in a home championships,” said Johnson-Thompson. “All my family are here and that does not normally happen. I wanted my family to see me achieve something.”

Achieve something she did by showing great maturity and raising her game when she needed to in the shot put which brought her a crucial personal best. 

It was her first pentathlon since winning the European indoor pentathlon title in Prague. She triumphed there with 5000 points - just 13 points shy of her world record - and this time it was 4750 points, leading a European double as Austria’s Ivona Dadic won silver with 4700 points. Cuba’s Yorgelis Rodriguez was third with 4637 points.

In the end Johnson-Thompson just had to avoid trouble in the final event - the 800m - to ensure victory. She led Dadic by 33 points but she wanted to win the best way possible, breaking away on the last lap to win in 2:16.63 from Rodriguez (2:17.70) and Dadic in (2:17.82). The celebrations could start.

Johnson-Thompson started the day with a solid 8.36 from the 60m hurdles but the Brit then had the overall lead after the high jump which she won with 1.91m for 2167 points ahead of US champion Erica Bougard (2154) and Rodriguez (2082) before the best indoor shot put of her life which was to prove so important. 

It was Johnson-Thompson’s weakest of the five disciplines, entering with a lifetime indoor best of 12.32m and knowing her rivals could gain distance on her. 

But she reached out 12.68m on her first go. As her training partner Antoinette Nana Djimou from France won with 15.52m, Rodriguez recorded 14.15m to lead with 2886 from Johnson-Thompson by 13 with Dadic just one point further back.

The long jump is the Briton’s best and so it proved as she began with 6.50m – a distance she matched in the third round – to win from Dadic with 6.40m before capping her evening with her third victory of the day in the 800m to seal the overall crown. 

Marton makes history for Hungary

Two-time European indoor champion Anita Marton went dancing across the track of the Arena Birmingham and who could blame her as she secured her first global gold medal. 

Marton was on her way to victory after a world-leading 19.48m from round three. Following a foul and then 18.96m, she launched the implement to 19.62m with her final effort to extend her world lead as she beat Jamaica’s Danniel Thomas-Dodd with 19.22m while reigning world outdoor champion Gong Lijiao had to settle for bronze with 19.08m. 

"The Chinese are very good competitors so I'm really glad I managed to beat Gong, but I am sure we will stay friends. Shot putters are very close. We are like family," she said.

Anita Marton landed her first global title with a world-leading 19.62m in the shot put
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Anita Marton landed her first global title with a world-leading 19.62m in the shot put

Having won the European indoor title in Prague in 2015 and then in Belgrade last March, Marton has a third indoor title - and her first global title indoors and outdoors - to her name and what a moment for her country who had never won a title before in World Indoor Championships history. 

She is a big enough star as it is back home and now her profile will grow even more after a competition where she was only fourth after the opening round with 18.29m as Thomas-Dodd led with 18.92m.

The Hungarian star went a centimetre further in round two before round three saw both Thomas-Dodd and her crack the 19m barrier. 

As the Jamaican broke new ground with 19.22m, Marton reached that 19.48m but she still had something special in store to bow out with. "This result belongs to all my team but especially my coach who has been with me for 18 years. We will have a celebration tonight then back at home with my family," she said.

A bronze for Kambundji in the 60m

Mujinga Kambundji set a Swiss record of 7.03 to win the 60m title the Swiss Indoor Championships last month but in Birmingham, it was all about the next step, the biggest step: transferring that speed to the grand stage which brings greater nerves, a brighter spotlight and rivals of a higher class.

And Kambundji dealt with that brilliantly from lane five. To her left, Murielle Ahoure charged away from the start to win in a world lead of 6.97 from her teammate Marie-Josee Ta Lou in 7.05.

Mujinga Kambundji won bronze in the 60m final at the IAAF World Indoor Championships with 7.06
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Mujinga Kambundji won bronze in the 60m final at the IAAF World Indoor Championships with 7.06

Kambundji was third in 7.05, ahead of Jamaica’s double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson (7.08) and the Netherlands’ two-time world 200m champion Dafne Schippers’ (7.10).

“This is amazing,” she said. “To win a medal in a field that was so fast. My career has not always been easy but I am happy it has turned out so well."