Tokyo 2020: Covid-19 pandemic will affect Olympic hopes, says Katarina Johnson-Thompson

Tokyo 2020: Covid-19 pandemic will affect Olympic hopes, says Katarina Johnson-Thompson

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: “I was surprised that a number of sports had only white competitors”

World heptathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson says this summer’s Olympic success will be determined by who has coped best with the pandemic.

Covid-19 has severely affected athletes’ preparations for Tokyo 2020, which is finally due to take place in July, after being postponed last year.

The Briton said there would be gold medal hopes failing.

“All I can do is make sure I have the best preparation,” the 28-year-old told BBC Breakfast’s Sally Nugent.

The Liverpool athlete was in superb shape as she prepared for what should have been the start of the Games last July.

In 2018, she won the world indoor pentathlon title with a gold medal in heptathlon at the Commonwealth Games and a silver medal behind Olympic champion Nafissatou Thiam at the European Championships.

Further pentathlon successes followed at the European Indoors in 2019 before finally clinching the world heptathlon title at the World Championships, overtaking Belgian rival Thiam in a memorable competition in Doha.

“I thought I was ready to go further in Tokyo – that was always the plan,” Johnson-Thompson said. “The timing was perfect. He was just interrupted, but that’s life.

“The Olympics will be won and lost for whoever managed the pandemic best. There will be so many people who would have been champions but who will not be because of the pandemic. I find it fascinating. “

“Some of the things said are getting worse”

Johnson-Thompson keeps his thousands of social media followers up to date on his progress. However, along with the benefits of the medium come the negatives, highlighted recently by multiple reports of online abuse by sports stars.

“I’ve seen a lot of it in football and it’s disgusting,” she said.

“Some of the things said get worse and I think it’s because you’re in direct contact with the person you’re trying to abuse.

“Sometimes people look at social media and think you have the perfect life, but that’s literally just the highlights. The more people understand about mental health, the better social media will be. “

Following the postponement of Tokyo 2020 last summer, Johnson-Thompson established an academy to provide opportunities for public school athletes from ethnic minority communities.

“You think the Olympics are diverse, but I was surprised to find that a number of sports all featured white competitors,” she said. “I think there are people who could be part of an Olympic team and win a medal, but just didn’t have the right support along the way. “

Johnson-Thompson said she has been affected by prejudice in the past.

“I don’t think anyone has deliberately gone out of their way to be mean,” she said. “It affected me in a lot of ways, in terms of my self-esteem, the way I grew up wanting to look a certain way… I felt like I had to change my hair and show it off.” somehow.

“When I look back, I changed things to try to blend in. “

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