Katarina Johnson-Thompson will not be defending her title later this month in west Austria at the prestigious Gotzis Hypo-Meeting. Her coach has revealed that a knee injury has hampered her preparations for the two day multi-discipline showcase event. It represents a major blow both to the meeting organisers and to the athlete herself, after demonstrating excellent form in winning the European indoor pentathlon earlier in the year. Reigning Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill is also believed to be a doubt for the event being held on 30-31 May.
Pleasing performance in Manchester
The announcement comes just days after 'KJT' had competed at the Great City Games in the heart of Manchester. Her second place on that occasion in the rarely contested 200m hurdles event, seemed to indicate that she had recovered well after her indoor exertions. It appears, however, that she picked up a knee injury during March which has left the 22-year-old not yet "sufficiently prepared" to face the challenge of the seven disciplines that make up the heptathlon. Her coach Mike Holmes indicated that in the aftermath of the injury she had lost vital preparation time.
Last summer was wrecked with injury
The caution being employed by the Johnson-Thompson training group seems sensible, assuming that it ensures that the talented athlete will be fit enough to contest for the medals at this summer's World Championships in Beijing. The Liverpudlian missed the majority of last season through injury. After elevating herself into the gold medal favourite position with her victory at last year's event in Gotzis, she was forced to miss both the Commonwealth Games and European (outdoor) Championships last summer.
British heptathlon clash postponed
Gotzis had been hoping to witness the long-awaited re-match between 'KJT' and Ennis-Hill. The two had been rivals at the London Olympics, when Johnson-Thompson was still learning the event and Ennis-Hill was the red-hot favourite. There seems to be every possibility now for neither of the leading Brits in the heptathlon to feature in Austria. Ennis-Hill had been planning to compete in her first multi-event competition since winning that gold medal at London 2012.
Ennis-Hill needs to be ready to compete
The 'poster-girl' of British #Athletics also had a promising return to action in Manchester on Saturday, placing third in a highly competitive 100m hurdles race. Her coach is the much-respected Toni Minichiello, never one to risk his top athlete's well-being for the sake of short-term gain. He sees the bigger picture when preparing Ennis-Hill for the season ahead and will only sanction her involvement in Gotzis if she can meet her targets. One of her pressing goals will be to achieve the qualifying mark of 6,200 points that is required to compete in the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Gotzis would be the first opportunity to get that out of the way, allowing her to focus on her preparations for the major competitions. However, Minichiello will not rush her back just for the sake of it, indicating that there will be further opportunities afterwards to reach the qualification standard. After almost two years out with injury and post-childbirth, the 29-year-old will not risk further setbacks now. They will assess how the next two weeks of training progress before committing themselves to Gotzis or not.