Holly McArthur keen to follow in Katarina Johnson-Thompson's footsteps

Holly McArthur plans to be the next top model off the UK's heptathlon production line after picking up some trade secrets from the event's current number one.

Holly McArthur
Holly McArthur

The 18-year-old Edinburgh AC prospect has knuckled back down to training following her tenth-place finish at last month’s Commonwealth Games with a display that marked her out as one to watch.

But getting a close-up view of Katarina Johnson-Thompson was worth its weight in gold, McArthur claims, with the Scouser nabbing first place in the Gold Coast just a month after landing the world indoor title in Birmingham to prove she’s no longer the sport’s nearly woman.

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“When London 2012 came I was 12 and Kat was just starting out,” McArthur recalled. “It was always Jessica Ennis for me, but I now look up to Kat just as much.

“In the high jump, I came in and she hadn’t even entered yet. But you can tell she’s very experienced. She kept her trainers on. She seemed so cool about things.

“The 200 metres was quite cool because she was in the lane inside me and when we came around the bend, I just felt her whoosh past me. It was a really good experience competing against such high-quality athletes.”

Coached by ex-jumper and sprinter Iain McEwan, McArthur has time on her side in her quest to follow in the footsteps of Johnson-Thompson and the now-retired Ennis with the Paris Olympics in 2024 set to become her top target.

This summer, it’s now going to be step by step, she insists, with the forthcoming world junior trials in Bedford possibly arriving too quickly after her jaunt Down Under.

“I’d like to do world juniors,” she admitted. “I’ll see how my body feels and maybe get another competition in before the end of the season.”

A short break has her almost recharged to make a tilt at the under-20 showpiece in Tampere in July, whose past champions include Johnson-Thomson and fellow heptathlete Morgan Lake.

But Holly said: “It was quite an emotional rollercoaster with the hype up to the Games. On social media, you follow other people’s build up and that gets you excited too.

“I have been quite tired afterwards and I really needed the two-week break to get ready for returning to competition.

“The thing I learnt was to trust myself and that I had done enough in my preparation.

“And to enjoy it. My hurdles was over so quickly and I noticed it, so I wanted to appreciate the last six events. It’s quite easy to get caught up in it all, but if you enjoy it and relax, the performances come.”

And next time the teen’s mixing it with the A-List, the fear factor won’t be quite as daunting thanks to her Commonwealth trip.

“The first time I got into the Village we got taken into the dining room. I sat down with my tray and Sally Pearson was at the end of my table.

“All these people I follow on Instagram. They don’t know who I am, but I follow their daily lives.”