Katarina Johnson-Thompson looking forward to Commonwealth Games

World champion “super excited to have crowds back in athletics”.

World champion heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson has told the 22 Voices podcast that she’s “super excited” to have crowds back in athletics at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, and to return to the city that she’s competed in so many times before.

Speaking to 22 Voices, a podcast series from the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, Johnson-Thompson says returning to the Alexander Stadium is going to be special:

“It’s got a lot of history for me and it’s just perfect that the Commonwealth Games will be there next year. I’m super excited to have crowds back in athletics, excited for normality and a home games and to have fans. It’s just going to be great, I can’t wait.”

The heptathlete grew up in Liverpool but describes regular trips to Birmingham to run at Alexander Stadium and the NIA as a junior and senior athlete:

“It’s definitely where I started my career. My first English Schools competition was in Birmingham, me and my Mum used to go to the AAAs Under 15 championships at the NIA. We used to get the National Express coach up and I used to do the high jump. Both of those stadiums hold a lot of memories for me growing up, it’s my actual childhood.”

In 2018, Katarina won World Indoor gold in the pentathlon at Birmingham’s NIA and says it was a “magical” time:

“One of my favourite memories is the World Indoor Athletics Championships in 2018, which was such a magical weekend. It snowed and snowed and snowed, my family almost didn’t make it, my friends almost crashed the car because the snow was that thick, and on the Monday it was just all clear so it did feel like absolute magic. To compete in the world championships at a home stadium was just so good for me.”

In the podcast, available at birmingham2022.com/22voices and to subscribe at all major podcast providers, Katarina Johnson-Thompson tells Birmingham-born sports presenter Samantha Johnson how many more Olympic Games she thinks she has in her before retirement:

“Another two at least, counting Tokyo. Definitely until Paris 2024, that’s for sure, that will be almost like a home Games. It’s super difficult to win an Olympic medal, I think that’s why the weight behind it is always there, and you have to be ready on that day, every four years.

“It’s important for me because I have achieved a lot of things I want to achieve, and I still don’t feel like I’ve reached my full potential, I still don’t feel like I’ve gotten everything I wanted out of the sport. So, I think that’s a huge driving force and my motivation.”

The 2019 world champion also touched on the achilles injury she picked up at the end of last year, and says her recovery is going well:

“My recovery is going really well. I’m gutted that it’s not the way I wanted to start a new year, but I’m remaining positive and I’m in a good place right now. I’m progressing really fast and I’m happy that all things are set in place for the outdoor season.”

Katarina Johnson-Thompson is the latest guest on 22 Voices, a new podcast series profiling sporting stars and cultural trailblazers as the build up to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games continues.

The heptathlete is one of the faces of the Games, alongside other elite athletes including swimming champion Adam Peaty from Uttoxeter, world champion gymnast Joe Fraser from Birmingham and para swimming legend Ellie Simmonds from Aldridge.

In the podcast, the Liverpool-born star also talks about nearly quitting athletics in 2016 after a disappointing Rio Olympics, why she spoke out about racism and the Black Lives Matter movement last summer, and losing motivation during the first lockdown last year:

“When it got announced that the Olympics were going to be postponed, it was like my whole motivation and energy to get up and do what I normally do each day started to fade away week by week. It hit me the hardest because my dreams of Tokyo 2020 went in the bin.

“The third lockdown I’ve been very positive. Facilities are more open to trying to facilitate elite athletes because Tokyo is happening, so we have to find a way now.”

You can listen to the full episode of 22 Voices featuring Katarina Johnson-Thompson, and subscribe to the podcast, www.birmingham2022.com/22voices.