Johnson-Thompson shines for Britain

Congleton Guardian: Katarina Johnson-Thompson, left, secured silver in Sopot (AP) Katarina Johnson-Thompson, left, secured silver in Sopot (AP)

Katarina Johnson-Thompson was the star performer as Britain ended the World Indoor Championships in Poland with six medals, a total which has only been bettered twice before.

Johnson-Thompson was prevented from qualifying for the pentathlon in Sopot due to illness and overlooked for a wild card, but produced a personal best of 6.81 metres to claim silver in the long jump.

The 21-year-old from Liverpool led the competition from the second round until France's Eloyse Lesueur jumped 6.85m in the fourth, with Serbia's Ivana Spanovic taking bronze with 6.77m and Britain's Shara Proctor fourth with 6.68m.

There was also a silver for the men's 4x400m relay team of Conrad Williams, Jamie Bowie, Luke Lennon-Ford and Nigel Levine, who were only beaten by a world indoor record from the United States.

Andrew Osagie claimed a second successive bronze in the 800 metres despite crossing the line in fourth place, with Poland's Marcin Lewandowski subsequently disqualified.

There was also a bronze for the women's 4x400m team, the quartet of Eilidh Child, Shana Cox, Margaret Adeoye and Christine Ohuruogu unable to defend their title as they claimed bronze behind the United States and Jamaica.

Added to the gold for Richard Kilty over 60m and silver from Tiffany Porter in the 60m hurdles, it meant Britain fell three short of the record nine achieved two years ago in Istanbul. However, the only other time more than six medals have been won was seven on home soil in Birmingham in 2003.

"I think it's fantastic, I really do," British Athletics performance director Neil Black said. "I hadn't set a medal target and I didn't have an internal target because I believe the right thing is to support people to develop their performances and come and do the best they could.

"But I think if I had, six I would have been very pleased with. I think it's an excellent performance and you think of the people who were very close and the people who weren't here and I think we can look and think 'How could we have done any better than that'."

Johnson-Thompson has long been tipped as a potential successor to Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill, but after also winning the world junior long jump title in Barcelona in 2012 was quick to stress: "I just want to make sure everyone knows I'm a heptathlete and I will be going back to the heptathlon.

"I came here with no expectations and thought if everyone had a bad day I might be in with a chance of a medal. It was unbelievable when I was winning at one point. I'm happy with the silver and it does make up for missing the pentathlon. It was hard for me to watch it on Friday, I got very down about it because that's my event and it's so open this year."

In the men's relay, Williams ran a superb first leg to hand the baton to Bowie in the lead and although he was soon overtaken, Lennon-Ford and Levine held off a strong Jamaican challenge.

"We came here for gold but we'll have to settle for silver. It was a tough battle and I wasn't going to give up the inside to the Jamaican for anything," Levine said.

In the women's event, team captain Child put in a good first leg, handing over to Cox in second place. Cox maintained that position but Adeoye was overhauled by Jamaica on the third leg and Ohuruogu had to be more concerned with holding off Russia than catching the leaders.

Osagie revealed he knew during the race that Lewandowski had committed the rules violation before finishing just 0.01s ahead of him.

"It's very bittersweet," Osagie said. "Marcin's a good friend of mine. It's horrible to be in that situation. It happened to me at the UK Championships but the rules define athletics.

"I definitely saw it. I've no qualms. It was on the officials and judges hands and they made the decision."

There was disappointment in the pole vault as medal prospect Holly Bleasdale could only finish ninth after failing to clear 4.65m.

The 22-year-old missed the World Championships in Moscow last year due to injury but had performed well this season, achieving three clearances of 4.71m or higher. Gold was won by Cuba's Yarisley Silva with 4.70m.

"I'm really, really gutted," she said. "I felt great coming in and had the most amazing warm-up but it was just not my day. I felt like I had been on a long road back from my injury to come here and perform and it's not gone well.

"But I'll learn from it and improve as I always do. We all have setbacks and this is a big one for me but the Commonwealths and Europeans are coming up outdoors and I really want to get things right and do well there."

Asha Philip was unable to add to the medal tally in the 60m final, the former world youth champion finishing fourth in 7.11s as Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce took gold ahead of Murielle Ahoure of the Ivory Coast. Tianna Bartoletta of the United States claimed bronze.

Andy Pozzi was also fourth in the 60m hurdles despite another new personal best of 7.53s, with team-mate William Sharman in seventh. Andy Vernon was 11th in the 3,000m final.

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