TOKYO (AP) — KJT was desperate to avoid a DNF on the Olympic stage.
After injuring her lower right leg rounding the bend in the 200-meter event, heptathlon world champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson found herself sitting on the track with medical staff rushing to her assistance, including one pushing a wheelchair.
She waved them off, got up and started jogging gingerly down the home stretch, crossing the finish line with a stride more like a race walk than a sprint. After bravely avoiding a Did Not Finish in the result column, she recorded a DQ instead — disqualified for stepping out of her lane.
The 28-year-old British star went directly from the finish to the medical treatment room. She has withdrawn from the competition.
It was a rough day for multi-event world champions on Wednesday. About an hour after Johnson-Thompson’s medal chances evaporated, decathlon world champion Niklas Kaul of Germany was wheeled off the track after breaking down halfway into the 400-meter race, the fifth of 10 disciplines.
He was 13th coming off the high jump — where he cleared 2.11 meters — in the fourth event.
It was 28 degrees Celsius with 72% humidity when his 400-meter heat started following a hot and humid day at Tokyo’s Olympic stadium. No medical update was provided for Kaul’s condition.
Decathlon leader Damian Warner said the ice vests that athletes used to cool off were like life vests.
“Today it was smoking hot all the way through. I think it’s supposed to be like that tomorrow,” he said. “It’s going to be like a battle of the heat just like it’s the battle of all the other competitors.”
Warner, an Olympic and world championship bronze medalist from Canada, led the competition with 4,722 points following the 100 meters, the long jump, the shot put, the high jump and the 400. Australia’s Ash Moloney was in second spot, 81 points behind, and another Canadian, Pierce Lepage, was in third place with 4,529 points.
Steve Bastien of the United States was fourth, 353 points behind Warner, and Kevin Mayer of France, the 2016 Olympic silver medalist and 2017 world champion, was fifth with 4,340 points.
Johnson-Thompson had been in fifth place in the heptathlon after the 100-meter hurdles, high jump and shot put, still close enough to compete for medals despite her preparation being hampered by a series of injuries, including her left Achilles.
With three events to go, 2017 world championship bronze medalist Anouk Vetter of the Netherlands leads with 3,968 points. She is 27 points clear of Noor Vidts of Belgium and 47 ahead of defending Olympic champion Nafissatou Thiam.
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