KATARINA Johnson-Thompson has withdrawn from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow due to a foot injury, which is a huge blow to Team England and robs the athletics programme of one of its rising stars.
The 21-year-old Liverpudlian, who is seen as the heiress to British athletics’ golden girl Jessica Ennis-Hill, said she was “absolutely devastated” to miss the Games, in which she was hot favourite to win gold in the women’s heptathlon.
Johnson-Thompson is still hoping to recover in time to compete in the long jump at the European Championships in Zurich next month.
Johnson-Thompson said: “I’m absolutely devastated that I’m not going to be able to compete at the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. I was so looking forward to competing in another home Games and this time as one of the favourites. The Commonwealths was a key target for me this year and I was feeling so good in my preparation up until this week so this is a real blow. My season so far with a World Indoor medal in the long jump, winning at Gotzis and becoming world number one in heptathlon had really given me the confidence going into the Games that I could post a big score and hopefully come away with that gold medal – but sadly it’s just not meant to be. All the advice is telling me that I risk long-term damage if I compete in just over a week’s time and I have to take that advice for the sake of my career.
“I really hope to be able to compete in the long jump at the European Championships next month but it doesn’t take away how gutted I am that I won’t be at the Commonwealths – particularly after all the amazing support I have already received and I know the crowds would have been fantastic after the reception I got in Glasgow at the Diamond League last week.”
British Athletics performance director Neil Black said: “Obviously we’re really disappointed for Katarina as the Commonwealth Games was a big target for her this year, but the key thing is ensuring we don’t risk her long-term career.
“We’re confident that with treatment and careful management she will still be in a position to compete in the long jump at the European Championships in Zurich next month, but a heptathlon starting next week could result in long-term damage. I know she is personally devastated as this was her main aim this season and was determined to take her place on the start line so as not to let the Glasgow 2014 spectators down.
“However, Katarina and her coach Mike (Holmes) are incredibly experienced as an athlete-coach pairing and realise that it is not worth risking a long-term injury.”