Tag Archive: Kelly Sotherton

Her indoor term may have stretched longer than most but in a Wagner-esque manner Katarina Johnson-Thompson‘s campaign followed a pattern of continual powerful crescendos working up to a sensational finale as she narrowly missed out on great Karolina Kluft‘s global indoor U20 landmark in the pentathlon.

Neither the venue nor the timing of her venture recommended such a high-class showing leading up to a three-side multi-event international between Britain, France and Spain in Cardiff despite a lengthy string of PBs en route. Yet, the Merseysider turned up with ideas of her own to issue a vigorous statement before turning round into a massive outdoor season.

At the end of the day, it is no mean feat to shake a mark of 4535pts set in Wien that laid a sound platform for the Swede to conquer the senior European crown in Munich back in 2002, indicating that the young Briton could be on the verge of a quantum leap on the international ladder.

Johnson-Thompson hit the ground running as she swept over the hurdles in 8.48 secs, tying her nearly month-old PB, for 1021pts to a flying start before she swung onto the infield to set the arena alight as she soared over a big PB of 1.88m in the high jump, worth a mighty 1080pts to the good.

Adding to the amazement, that made the highest an U20 girl from these shores has cleared since an identical figure by Vikki Hubbard in 2006 and just 3cm shy of the total British U20 record of 1.91m co-held by Lea Goodman (nee Haggett, 1991) and Susan Moncrief (nee Jones, 1997), moving up into equal fifth in the all-time charts.

For that matter, the individual event now savours a rare sight of four female high jumpers over 1.88m or higher in a single season, a privilege lost for many a year, with the entire outdoor spell still lying ahead at that.

The thrill of her latest feat ran away with KJT to put a third PB on the trot at 11.68m in the shot range (640pts) and she might have felt slightly disappointed to land at ‘only’ 6.24m (924pts) on the bounce in the long jump pit, having set a UK U20 indoor record of 6.39m this term.

And there was yet more to come as she wrapped up a fairy tale venture with a total new PB of 2:17.24 over the anchor 800m (861pts), her fourth out of five disciplines, to score an eventual 4526pts for a massive British junior indoor record by no less than 313pts, also the owner of the previous marker at 4213 from Sheffield last year.

She must have taken a moment or two to shake off a momentary daze finding out how desperately close she had come to Kluft’s milestone, skimming past by a mere 9pts, but there would be no words to render her elation at gaining the age group runner-up spot in the history of the event worldwide, making her own mark on the global stage.

It is definitely going to be most intriguing to see how she is going to translate that form into the heptathlon now and it won’t be long before an initial gauge is obtained as she is lining up at the 25 Multistar at Desenzano, Italy, on 5 & 6 May, a multi-eventer also contested by Kelly Sotherton on her return to these quarters.

Meaning that the event will also hold an incorporated essential first British head-to-head between two of the three main contenders for the remaining two Olympic berths alongside certain-to-be-selected Jessica Ennis, the third being Commonwealth champion Louise Hazell.

Incidentally, Johnson-Thompson has also moved third highest scorer ever in the overall rankings of the pentathlon in Britain behind only Ennis’s recent 4965pts in Istanbul and Sotherton’s  4852pts in Valencia 2008.

A name to watch out for the future is also Morgan Lake, having not turned her 15 yet, who turned in an astonishing for her tender age 3953pts in the U20 competition to miss out on winner Aurelie Chaboudez (FRA) by a mere 4 points.

Her superb score sheet displayed a 9.10 secs in the hurdles, 1.79m (PB) in the high jump, 11.32m in the shot, 5.61m in the long jump and a PB of 2:26.55 in the 800m – the prospects of the event look brightest indeed!

Katy Marchant was third on 3934pts, an agonizing sole point outside her PB, as she set PBs of 8.67 secs over the sticks and 2:25.07 over 800m for a solid performance in her own right.



PS The highest ever total assembled by an U20 belongs to East German Sibylle Thiele with 4694pts (8.59, 1.86, 14.32, 6.51, 2:20.4) from 1984 but was performed on an oversize track and thus cannot count for record purposes.


Following Kelly Sotherton‘s shocking announcement of switching back to the multi-events, there could be an interesting contest set up for the two places on offer behind Jessica Ennis in the heptathlon for the British team in the Olympics in London.

Apart from the former Olympic bronze medallist herself, Commonwealth champion and poetry lover Louise Hazell, holding the edge as owner of the Olympic A standard already, is an established serious contender for a berth while rising U20 star Katarina Johnson-Thompson could also enter the fray if she can range closer to her PBs across disciplines in a heptathlon, performing well within herself in her PB of 5787pts, and could improve substantially a season on.

So which two do you think are going to follow Jess into the arena of the Olympic stadium at Stratford?

Kelly Sotherton has made a shocking announcement to Sky News earlier on that she is swapping back to her beloved heptathlon in an attempt to revive her dream of competing in the Olympics in London next summer.

Having endured a fruitless first season in the flat 400m, the 2004 Olympic bronze medallist has been convinced that her best chances are lying in the multi-events and admits that the first four weeks back into her more familiar multi-event regime have really rekindled the flame and hunger inside her.

Some shapshots of the memorable clashes between Karolina Kluft and Kelly Sotherton in the sounds of the Queen

Indeed, she never really looked happy and her trademark aggressiveness wasn’t there every time she stepped on the track to compete round the lap despite having shown competence and potential to do well, particularly back in the 2008 indoor season when she anchored a special laid-on triathlon against Karolina Kluft (SWE) to a 52.47 secs at the Norwich Union GP in Birmingham.

Later that year, she tore to a total PB of 52.19 secs for fifth in Gateshead and contributed a 50.35 second leg to the British relay in the final of the women’s 4x400m to bolster up her ranking as a potential future prospect over the distance.

Persisting injury problems condemned her to a long two seasons in the heptathlon twighlight and the 400m appeared as a lifeline to haul out into the hustle and bustle of athletics again, urged by UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commennee who was turning every stone to extend his options over the women’s long relay. On top of that, that was virtually her only way to extend her stay in the funding realm.

However, a stuttering string of outings peaking in a SB of 52.51 secs at Cottbus in late June saw her slip down to ninth in the UK lists this season and miss out on a relay spot for Britain in Daegu, while the imminent involvement of Shana Cox in the British affairs in earnest rendered her task even heavier going and drew her goal further beyond.

Which, in turn, may have dictated a radical change of plans and reverting to type, especially now that she lies no longer under the umbrella of the UK Athletics funding scheme.

The way of the heptathlon is simpler and more open as besides effective global number one Jessica Ennis and Commonwealth champion Louise Hazell there is a further vacant spot for the taking towards London. But is by no means strewn with roses.

An in-decent-form Sotherton ought to easily put away the Olympic A standard of 6150pts, a PB of 6547pts, and get a tight hold on that third place. At the moment, though, there is going to be a big question mark hanging over her jumping and throwing events while she may have to gain back some of the muscle she had to drop off so as to settle into the 400m last year.

What’s more, none should write off the chances of a breakthrough well over 6000pts from rising U20 star Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who performed well within herself in her PB of 5787pts in Tallinn, so there could emerge a battle for places behind Ennis as well.

But what matters at the moment is that the smile is restored on her face and the feel good factor has slotted back in place again which can take her a long way. Feeling happy where you operate is a first major step towards success in every department and can form an inexaustive source of strength and confidence to draw on all the way. Therefore, it could lay the platform to build up a fairytale return to the big stage for Kelly.

Incidentally, she has already dropped a hint about tackling her first heptathlon in about four years in May, apparently implying Gotzis as the venue of her multi-eventing return.

Nicola Sanders has come to snatch a dramatic late individual place for Daegu as she won the women’s 400m in a SB of 51.84 secs at Nivone (Belgium) earlier on to secure that necessary second B standard.

Following a rather forced late start to the season, the former World silver medalist didn’t really get going into the season until the international meeting of Barcelona two weeks ago, where she carved out her first B standard of 51.94 secs for sixth behind winner Christine Ohuruogu to draw into contention in the qualifying battle.

However, her plans at the UK Trials didn’t come off last weekend which meant that she had to go for broke in a last-ditch attempt, with her cause made even more difficult since she was, along with relay hopeful Kelly Sotherton, forced to scrape a race abroad – London Grand Prix organisers didn’t think fit to afford her a lane in the women’s 400m affair, or even lay on a second national heat come to that. But, thankfully, everything came out well in the end and she is going to have the opportunity to re-establish herself on the big stage.

She owes much, however, to Lee McConnell who didn’t rest on her multible B marks to qualify but tore it up to a big SB of 51.01 secs a little earlier on at Crystal Palace, gaining the A standard and a big mental boost herself.

There was even more drama behind Sanders as Nadine Okyere carved out a crucial last-gasp big PB of 52.26 secs, her previous best of 52.66 set in Geneva earlier this season, that could steal her a relay place at the death ahead of Sotherton, who unfortunately had to pull up 100m out with a hamstring injury. Hopefully, it won’t turn a serious one for the former heptathlon Olympic medalist.

US-based Lennie Waite ‘chased a B qualifying standard of 9:49.67 for runner-up over the barriers but rather too late as Eilish McColgan had turned in a new Scottish and UK U23 record of 9:44.80 at the Palace, yet could still serve as a banker for the Olympic season, while James Campbell‘s bid for a second B in the javelin ended in frustration as he got injured in his third effort and had to pull out with a best of 71.95m on the day.



At the International EAP meeting in Amsterdam in neighbouring Holland, Conrad Williams comfortably won the 400m in a SB and meeting record of 45.63 secs from Frenchman Teddy Venel, second in 46.16 secs, that was also inside the B qualifying standard for Daegu to reignite his bid for a place in the British long relay.

Emily Diamond, a 200m finalist at the World U20 Championships in Moncton last summer, was second and third in the 200 and 100m in 11.92 (-0.3m/sec) and 23.94 (-0.9m/sec) respectively, both won by Jamaican Simone Facey, while Merwyn Luckwell never hit his rhythm to wind up below 70m in the men’s javelin.

Picking up where I left off yesterday, I’m moving into the women’s events where the picture looks far clearer and the landscape on this side of the team has shaped up to a large extent save the distances from 400m through to the 1500m, where there is still much at stake and some knife-edge run-offs to decide places.

100m A resurgent Jeanette Kwakye and season’s revelation Anyika Onuora have bagged the two automatic places in the women’s dash while Laura Turner has effectively secured hers in a totally convincing third – unless Montell Douglas, who looks to have done enough to take her place in the short relay, has got different ideas and can spring some major upset at the very end.

Jeanette Kwakye post-race interview

Veteran Joice Maduaka and Asha Philip finished tied slightly behind, the former getting fifth on a photo-finish verdict, and at least one of them should fill one more slot in the relay team. Ashleigh Nelson didn’t look fit and I don’t know what her chances could be in that respect.

200m The only holder of an A standard, U20 sensation Jodie Williams, has long ruled herself out of the reckoning so it comes between those holding B standards to earn what looks like a sole place up for grabs. Out of whom, however, Jessica Ennis will be running the distance only at the end of the first day of the heptathlon in Daegu and World Youth champion Desiree Henry is ineligible due to the very young of her age.

Onuora was a thorough winner at the Trials on Sunday and has gained a tight grip on a place, having set a sound four B standards in the process. By contrast, former Olympic finalist Abi Oyepitan may now need to run inside the A benchmark (23.00) to rule her own fate and doesn’t look near that form at all despite her early season promise. Unless Onuora does it herself and grants her a favour.

Maduaka and season surprise Margaret Adeoye hold a B each but they don’t look like they could turn the tables.

Funnily enough, none of the top two in Birmingham will represent Britain in the event in Daegu on different grounds; Perri Shakes-Drayton will be running over the hurdles and Shana Cox is not eligible before November. However, Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu has virtually clinched her place as she came a clear third and has sneaked under the A standard, setting 51.49 secs in Barcelona the previous week.

Perri Shakes-Drayton in her post-race interview

Scot Lee McConnell has gathered together as many as six B standards, more than any other male or female athlete across events, but would like to finish the business off and will have that chance at Crystal Palace.

Nicola Sanders, on the other hand, still needs an additional B standard and even in that case her fate won’t be entirely in her hands and will most likely hang on McConnell to dip inside the A, a rather awkward situation. Further, she hasn’t got a lane in the women’s 400m at the London GP so she may need to seek a race elsewhere save there is a late B all-British heat lined up.

Kelly Sotherton should be named in the long relay as she came sixth and has got a SB of 52.51 secs as a banker.

800m Jenny Meadows confirmed her undisputed No1 status in the country with a convincing win to register her name in the books of the British team but beyond her a fierce battle royal is building up that involves four runners over potentially two places on offer, provided at least one of them dips under the A standard.

I’m going to give a slender edge to Emma Jackson who has impressed me this season and possesses a fiercesome kick down the home straight, which would stand her in good stead. She writes “sub 2” all over her and it’s been a matter of getting into the right race to commit it on the track and I think the race at Crystal Palace has got all the required ingredients.

Marilyn ‘Maz’ Okoro has shown signs of a return to good form and she will have to strike a good balance between her speed and her tactics as well as shunning any restless urge to pour forward early, while Jemma Simpson will be somewhat of an unknown quantity as she hasn’t raced since the Diamond League meeting in Eugene and has got to do it all in one race. But if she is fully fit then she should edge into a qualifying place.

European U23 bronze medalist Lyndsay Sharp will be the dark horse but her turn of pace over the last hundred can be a headache for everyone.

1500m Hannah England and Lisa Dobriskey were a class apart, as expected, to comfortably claim two automatic spots on the team but Stacey Smith‘s audacious tactics didn’t pay off and she has got to fight it out with returning Charlene Thomas in a tussle with no tomorrow at the Palace.

Charlene’s fitness, however, will be a big question mark as she has been dogged by injury ever since her European Team Champs triumph in Stockholm and has missed plenty of training, therefore Stacey should start as favourite. But if it comes to a more tactical affair with a late burn-up Charlene’s chances should definitely increase as the latter has shown in trouble in such races.

Between the two, it’s Charlene that could do real damage if she arrived fully fit in Daegu but it is fair that she who finishes on top to take the third spot.

5000m Helen Clitheroe has been unlucky with weather conditions in her previous races but she should get a break this once. She has got to definitely grab at least the B standard, lying just four seconds away, and I reckon she’s got a good chance of getting even the A. Therefore, she should make Britain’s sole representative in the event given that Charlotte Purdue has been in effect out of the running.

10000m Britain will not be represented over this distance.

Marathon All three individual athletes named after the London Marathon in April have sadly withdrawn on grounds of injury or lack of fitness, namely Mara Yamauchi, Jo Pavey and Louise Damen. That leaves the British team with Eliz McColgan-coached Alyson Dixon and Susan Partridge who are down only for the team event.

Tiffany Porter post-race interview

100mh Tiffany Offili-Porter formally stamped her passport in style as her place was never in doubt whereas Jessica Ennis, the other A standard holder, will be hurdling only within her heptathlon duties in Daegu.

Gemma Bennett has got a B of 13.08 secs, which would have been double but for a 2.1m/sec tailwind in Crete, and ran 13.19 for third at the Trials on Sunday so she can hold solid hopes that she can make the squad too.

On the other hand, Angie Broadbelt-Blake sees her chances slipping away following a disappointing outing in Birmingham, with a PB of 13.18 secs this season and a marginally windy (2.1m/sec) 13.12 secs in Bedford. But she’s racing at Crystal Palace and could still hope she could turn things round at the end.

Sarah Claxton hasn’t shown anywhere over the last four weeks so her bid looks as good as over.

400mh Perri Shakes-Drayton sealed her place in spectacular manner as she accomplished a superb flat/hurdles 400m double over the weekend and Eilidh Child virtually booked hers as runner-up holding as many as four B standards.

Nonetheless, if the Scot tears round the track inside the A standard at the Palace, which she has shown very capable of, she will also open the door to European U23 bronze medalist Meghan Beesley who fulfils the criteria with two Bs.

Olympic bronze medalist Tasha Danvers has had to skip the current season due to injury concerns.

3000mSC Barbara Parker and Hattie Dean, if she has fully regained her fitness, are certain to be named on the team on their A standards while U23 Eilish McColgan looks very likely to pick up a second B standard at Crystal Palace and make it a full quota of athletes in the event for Britain.

Heptathlon Defending World champion Jessica Ennis goes by right of her title and Commonwealth champion Louise Hazell is certain to be named following her recent PB of 6166pts. I don’t know whether U20 Katarina Johnson-Thompson might plan a late bid as she has got certainly the potential to top 6000pts.

20km RaceWalking Commonwealth champion Jo Jackson has earned her place ever since her 1h31:50 in the streets of London in late May.

HJ Steph Pywell returned with an encouraging 1.88 clearance early last month but hasn’t shown around since, hence the event looks bound to remain out in the wilderness.

PV Rocketing-high new UK record-holder Holly Bleasdale and Kate Dennison have long earned their berths on the team but none else looks anywhere near of filling the remaining vacant spot.

LJ Shara Proctor holds the A standard with a PB of 6.81m and is bound to be named where it may be a tall task for 19-year-old Lorraine Ugen to make 11cm on the B standard, twice at that, following her PB of 6.54m at the weekend. Two-time Olympic top-eight finalist Jade Johnson hasn’t shown at all.

TJ Laura Samuel, the World U20 silver medalist, looks to rediscover her form and fighting insticts and has snatched a late chance to keep whatever hopes alive of pulling a stunner out of her hat in time. Can she do it?

SP The event will stay anonymous as usual in recent times.

DT Jade Nicholls and Eden Francis are going both for broke as they desperately need a second B both to make the trip although the former will have the edge in case both make it – she has got a considerably better SB and PB of 60.76 and has beaten her domestic rival every time out this season.

HT Sophie Hitchon has virtually booked her place having thrown two Bs, doubling as UK records both times, and won bronze at the European U23 Championships.

JT Goldie Sayers has been always a certainty now that she is injury-free again whereas Laura Whittingham needs to grind out a last-gasp B standard to join her on the plane to Korea.