By Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber
DOHA (Reuters) – Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson produced two personal bests as she made a superb start to the heptathlon at the world athletics championships on Wednesday, opening a 96-point lead over defending champion Nafissatou Thiam after four events.
The 26-year-old Johnson-Thompson took an early lead after running a lifetime best of 13.09 seconds in the 100m hurdles, before matching Thiam with a clearance of 1.95m in the high jump.
The Belgian briefly reclaimed top spot with a 15.22-meter throw in the shot put, but Johnson-Thompson kept in touch with a personal best of 13.86 meters.
The Briton then retook the lead with a season’s best of 23.08 seconds in the 200 meters to move onto 4,138 points and put herself in a position to win her country’s second gold of the championships.
Britain clinched its first gold when Dina Asher-Smith dominated the 200 meters final on Wednesday at the Khalifa International Stadium.
“Gold – why not?” Johnson-Thompson said. “I am in shape and in the position to do it but you never know what can happen on day two.”
Thiam trails Johnson-Thompson with 4042 points but was nonetheless pleased with her performance with three remaining events on Thursday — the long jump, the javelin and the 800m.
“I’m happy with what I did today and I hope I can be good like that tomorrow and see what happens,” Thiam said.
Kendell Williams of the United States sits in third with 3,855 points.
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Toby Davis)