AHEAD of two key visits to Glasgow, rising heptathlon star Katarina Johnson-Thompson is relishing the prospect of a future showdown with Olympic champion and Great Britain team-mate Jessica Ennis-Hill.
Ennis-Hill is sitting out the whole of the 2014 season to start a family but Johnson-Thompson expects her to be better than ever when she returns to competition next year with Rio 2016 in mind.
The 21-year-old Johnson-Thompson has assumed top billing in Ennis-Hill’s absence and will focus on claiming Commonwealth Games gold in Glasgow after competing in long jump at this weekend’s Sainsbury’s Grand Prix in the city.
Johnson-Thompson said: “I think everybody should remember the way she bounced back after Beijing and had an injury people didn’t think she’d come back from. Jess has the ability to come back and be just the same or better than she was before. I think it would be great for heptathlon and the sport and it’s something I’m looking forward to.
“She wants to come back for the next World Championships and Rio so, hopefully, I can keep progressing as an athlete and if I’m still up there it would be great.”
Johnson-Thompson claimed an impressive fifth place at last year’s World Championships in Moscow and has admitted she will go to the Glasgow Games in the hunt for nothing less than gold. And having earned valuable experience when she finished 15th in her major Games debut at London 2012, Johnson-Thompson believes the extra maturity she has gained over the past two years will serve her well.
“I went to Moscow as a junior athlete and, on the second day. I thought, ‘oh yeah, I could actually have medalled here,’ said Johnson-Thompson.
“Since then, we’ve all been improving at the same time and I’m glad I’m in the mix. I’ve got another chance in Glasgow and, hopefully, the World Championships in London in 2017, so I consider myself a very lucky athlete.”
Meanwhile, Johnson-Thompson’s England team-mate Morgan Lake has withdrawn from the Commonwealth Games in order to fully focus on this month’s World Junior Championships in Oregon.
The 17-year-old, who set a new UK youth record in May this year, has accepted it is best for her development to prioritise the event in the United States, which starts on 22 July.
Lake will be replaced in the England team by Grace Clements, who won a bronze medal at the Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010.
Lake said: “This has been an extremely difficult decision for me to take, as I was honoured to be selected for Team England, but ultimately it’s right for me and my development to focus on the World Juniors. I want to wish Grace and the rest of Team England all the very best and I’ll be cheering them all on.”