Athletics: Ennis-Hill has serious rival close to home as Johnson-Thompson soars

Great Britain have another heptathlon star in waiting.

Great Britains Katarina Johnson-Thompson grabs a drink soon after completing the heptathlon 800m in Moscow, narrowly missing out on a bronze medal and finishing fifth.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson stepped into the spotlight at the World Championships in Moscow in the absence of Sheffield’s injured Jessica Ennis-Hill and produced the performance of her life.

A personal best haul of 6449 points left the 20-year-old just 28 off the medals in fifth place – but the potential for the future was there for all in the Luzhniki Stadium to see.

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And, having targeted a top-eight place ahead of the championships, she knows she is ready for so much better.

The Liverpool athlete said: “I’m a bit regretful I didn’t say I could get a medal, because if I had a bit of belief in myself from the start I could have actually had one.

“It’s weird to think I can target medals if I just sort out my throws.”

Johnson-Thompson has already broken Ennis-Hill’s British junior record – she exceeded it three times last year – and former Olympic heptathlon champion Denise Lewis said she showed the Olympic champion’s “class” last night.

It is certainly difficult to argue with three personal bests yesterday, two of them huge, to go with the one she set over 200m in the final event of day one.

She went into the 800m, the final event, in contention for bronze and smashed her PB with a run of two minutes 07.64 seconds. It took four PBs and one national record from the athletes above her to keep her off the podium.

Were it not for a poor high jump, normally one of her strengths, and the customary terrible shot put on Monday it could have been even better.

She said: “I know I let myself down in the high jump. That’s where I should have got big points. It would have been a much easier race for me in the 800m, but I’m glad I’ve got that PB now in the 800m and I know I can always rely on that.

“But I can’t let myself lose that many points in the throws. It’s a bit embarrassing for me.

“There were seven people going for the bronze medal in that one race so it was very fast and I just knew I had to stay within half a second of the German. It was a bit like a rat race in the end.”

After admitting she had “mixed emotions” with how her first day went, yesterday she was “over the moon”.

A leap of 6.56m in the long jump was followed by an even more impressive 40.86m in the javelin, more than two metres further than she has thrown before.

She finished 15th just 12 months ago at London 2012, and even if this field was missing Ennis-Hill and Russian defending champion Tatyana Chernova, the youngster’s rise has still been a rapid one.

Last month brought her the European Under-23 title and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next summer will surely herald a first senior medal.

Last night, Ukraine’s Ganna Melnichenko took the gold with Canadian Brianne Theisen Eaton, whose husband Ashton Eaton won the decathlon on Sunday, getting silver and Holland’s Dafne Schippers taking bronze.

Perri Shakes-Drayton fired out a statement of intent by powering into the 400m hurdles final.

The Londoner produced a strong finish down the home straight to win her semi-final in 53.92s, running down a fading Lashinda Demus, the defending champion from the United States, over the last couple of barriers.

Scotland’s Eilidh Child ensured there would be two Britons in the medal race as she finished third in the first heat in 54.32. Shakes-Drayton is set for a titanic battle with Czech gold medal favourite Zuzanna Hejnova in tomorrow’s final, with the world No 1 the fastest qualifier in 53.52.

Tomorrow’s race will be a first global outdoor final for Shakes-Drayton after she missed out at London 2012 and she admitted it was a relief.

Andrew Osagie also impressed in finishing fifth in the 800m, powering down the home straight to move up from last and clocking 1:44.36, his best time of the year.

Elsewhere, Eilish McColgan was 10th in the 3,000m steeplechase, Hannah England advanced to the 1500m final, while Robbie Grabarz qualified for the high jump final.

But there was disappointment for defending 400m champion Dai Greene, who exited at the semi-final stage.

The Welshman, whose build-up to the championships has been plagued by injury and illness, was ill over the weekend to add to the calf tear that hampered his training over the past weeks, He was clearly lacking fitness as he finished fifth in 49.25 seconds.

“The intensity levels were just so difficult to get up,” he said.

“That’s what I’ve been missing in the last few weeks and it showed out there. When you’re racing the top guys in the world you can’t be found wanting.”