Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s coach has revealed the brutal training sessions – and mind games – that occasionally made her sick but turned her into a heptathlon world‑beater again.
Most people had written off the 2019 world champion after serious achilles tendon and calf injuries in 2020 and 2021, while Johnson‑Thompson also feared she was destined to fade into irrelevance after being way off the pace last year. However, the 67‑year‑old veteran Aston Moore had other ideas.
Moore, who guided Phillips Idowu and Ashia Hansen to world titles, quickly diagnosed that the 30-year-old was not fit enough when he began training her a year ago. And it was a series of weekly 800m sessions in Loughborough that proved to be the difference in Budapest.
“It was reasonably clear what was wrong,” Moore said. “Basically we had an athlete who didn’t have any petrol in the tank. I felt as soon as we could put some of that back in there – through hard work – she could get back.”
Going into the 800m, Johnson‑Thompson had to stay within three seconds of the American superstar Anna Hall to clinch gold. But while Hall’s personal best was nearly five seconds faster, Moore was not unduly worried.
“We did a lot of work in preparation. A Wednesday at Loughborough was always a day of trepidation because there was going to be a lot of pain on the track because of the work for the 800 metres. She did that all winter, up until about two weeks ago so there was no danger she was going to die. It was just a question of sticking with the job, which she did.”
Speaking on Monday evening after having just one hour’s sleep, Johnson‑Thompson said the sessions had sometimes made her throw up on the track but also