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Katarina Johnson-Thompson: 'To make it to the Tokyo start line was a miracle'

Katarina Johnson-Thompson was in fifth position heading into the 200 metre event. Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Britain's Katarina Johnson-Thompson said it was a miracle for her to make it to the starting line in the Tokyo Olympics after she was forced to withdraw from the heptathlon with an injury to her right calf on Wednesday in the 200m sprint.

Johnson-Thompson was in fifth position overall heading into the 200m, however, she pulled up in the first 100m and fell onto the track in obvious pain.

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On Thursday, Johnson-Thompson said in a statement posted on Twitter: "I don't know where to begin in trying to explain how I feel. Only a handful of people understand what I've been through. Even a smaller amount understand the mental and physical challenges I've faced trying to make it back in time through a pandemic after my Achilles ruptured the back end of December. I started the year in a wheelchair and I was not willing to end my Olympic campaign the same way.

"To make it to the line was a miracle. To not only do that, but be on my way to putting a decent score together, is heartbreaking. I truly believed I was capable of winning a medal despite having up to half a year of missed training."

In 2019, Johnson-Thompson upended her life by moving to France and changing coaches, and a few months later ruptured her Achilles which put her third Olympics in question.

She added: "More than ever, I am proud that I showed up, put myself out there and tried. It would have been very easy to shy away & pull out, to say I wasn't ready and blame the injury but I'm not that type of athlete or person. I am a fighter, I'm gritty [as f---k] and I find it extremely hard to give up. I can rest easy knowing I applied myself every single day and pushed until I couldn't push anymore.

"I've sacrificed so much, moving my entire life to France five years ago away from my family and friends. I've lost heart knowing that the work my team and I have done for the last eight months was for this outcome and I hate that my story has played out in more heartbreak. I've been knocked so many times and got back up, but it will take a lot of time for me to process this reality. I appreciate everyone's kind messages. Thank you."

The heptathlon events continue on Thursday with the long jump, javelin and 800m race due to go ahead.