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World Indoor Championships 2018: Katarina Johnson-Thompson wins first global gold

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World Indoor Athletics Championships
Venue: Arena Birmingham Dates: March 1-4
Coverage: BBC Two and red button, with updates on BBC Radio 5 live

Great Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson claimed her first global title with victory in the pentathlon at the World Indoor Athletics Championships.

The 25-year-old built on three solid events in Friday’s morning session by moving into first place with 6.50m in the long jump in Birmingham.

She went into the final 800m event with effectively a two-second lead over Austria’s Ivona Dadic.

Johnson-Thompson looked comfortable throughout and pulled clear to win.

“I can’t believe it,” Johnson-Thompson told BBC Sport. “I’ve dreamed of this for so long. It’s been a wobbly day but I’m happy I got the opportunity.

“All my family are here which is something that never normally happens. I had a hard year at the end of the year last year so I’m so happy they got to witness it. I still can’t believe it really.”

The Liverpool Harrier hit the front with 300 metres to go of the 800m and when Dadic threatened during the final lap, she found enough to kick clear, clocking two minutes 16.63 seconds.

That result took her to 4750 points, with Dadic on 4,700 and Cuba’s Yorgelis Rodriguez on 4,637.

Leaving the dogs pays off for Johnson-Thompson

Johnson-Thompson led after the fourth event of five, where she jumped 6.50m on two occasions in the long-jump

Johnson-Thompson set an indoor personal best of 12.68m in the shot put after topping the high-jump standings with a 1.91m effort and delivering an 8.36 seconds season’s best over 60m hurdles.

It left her trailing Rodriguez by 13 points, but the Cuban slipped to third with a poor long jump and Dadic became the Briton’s nearest challenger.

Rodriguez, Johnson-Thompson and Dadic finished fourth, fifth and sixth respectively at last year’s outdoor World Championships, so were well aware of one another’s ability over the closing 800m.

Crucially, Johnson-Thompson – who relocated to France to change her coaching set-up in 2017 – boasted a quicker 800m PB than Dadic and she dealt with the pressure of the final event admirably to take the title, beating Rodriguez into second over the four laps with Dadic third.

The win brings to an end years of frustration for Johnson-Thompson, who has not won a major title since claiming the European Indoor pentathlon crown in 2015.

After three fouls in the long jump, she placed 28th in the heptathlon at the outdoor World Championships in the same year before finishing sixth at the 2016 Olympics and fifth at last year’s World Championships in London.

“It’s been very difficult, especially the beginning of last year,” continued Johnson-Thompson. “I had to leave my two dogs with my mum. It’s lonely out there in France, the language barrier is difficult but it’s worth it for a night like this.

“I know it’s not a PB but what I want is to start winning medals.”

‘Start of a medal haul’ – analysis

Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill won the World Indoor pentathlon title in 2010

BBC Sport analyst Denise Lewis: She did what she had to do. She has improved as a rounded competitor. Today she was the Kat I wanted her to be. She was gutsy. I hope she believes this will be the springboard to a great season. She is doing the Commonwealth Games, she will do the Europeans and she could win a whole bag of medals.

London 2012 gold medallist and 2015 world champion long jumper Greg Rutherford: She has put some demons to bed there. Now that she has become a world champion it will make it easier to go into major championships and think ‘I can do this’. Across the board she had a pretty good day. She wasn’t exceptional, she got it done.

Philip disappointment as Ahoure brings Ivory Coast joy

Asha Philip produced a competitive time but came fifth in a high-calibre heat won by Ivory Coast's Murielle Ahoure (right)

British record holder and European indoor champion Asha Philip arrived as one of the medal hopefuls in the women’s 60m.

Despite running 7.13 seconds – one-hundredth of a second off her season’s best – she was beaten into fifth in a high quality semi-final, where Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure ran 7.01, beating Jamaica’s Olympic 100m champion Elaine Thompson (7.07) and Netherlands’ world 200m champion Dafne Schippers (7.09).

When the World Indoors were last held in Birmingham in 2003, 7.16 was enough to win gold, whereas 7.17 – ran by French athlete Carolle Zahi – only scraped into the final this time.

Ahoure upped the standard further in being the first woman to break seven seconds this year, clocking 6.97 in a stunning final run to land her first gold at a global championships, aged 30.

It was Ivory Coast’s first gold at the World Indoors and Ahoure’s compatriot Marie-Josee Ta Lou (7.05) took second, with Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji (7.05) third.

Cuban history as Muir among Britons to qualify

Cuban Juan Miguel Echevarria (centre) beat Luvo Manyonga (left) and Marquis Dendy to win a world title aged 19

A thrilling men’s long jump final saw 19-year-old Cuban Juan Miguel Echevarria produce an 8.46m leap to beat outdoor world champion Luvo Manyonga (8.44m).

The event was the first in indoor history where a jump of 8.42m was needed to win bronze, secured by American Marquis Dendy.

Outdoors 100m hurdles world record holder Kendra Harrison impressed in round one of the women’s 60m hurdles, with the fastest qualifying time of 7.77 seconds.

The 25-year-old is expected to do battle with American compatriots Sharika Nelvis and Christina Manning, with all three progressing as they chase the biggest medal of their careers to date. Olympic 100m hurdles champion Sally Pearson (7.96) also qualified.

In the men’s 800m, Great Britain’s Elliot Giles moved into Saturday’s final (19:35 GMT), clocking one minute 45.46 seconds.

Laura Muir, who took bronze in Thursday’s 3,000m behind champion Genzebe Dibaba, again chased the Ethiopian home in women’s 1500m qualifying to reach Saturday’s final (20:39 GMT).

The Scottish athlete clocked four minutes 06:54 seconds and said: “It was scrappy, I had to stay out of trouble. I followed Dibaba and kept an eye on the screen for girls behind me to get that second spot.”

Great Britain’s Eilidh Doyle (52.15 seconds) and Zoey Clark (52.63) both placed second in heats to reach Saturday’s women’s 400m final (20:05 GMT).

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BBC Sport – Athletics

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