After witnessing Katarina Johnson-Thompson take gold in the Pentathalon at the European Indoor Championships in Prague thoughts immediately turned to 2016 and not just the Olympics but the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
Johnson-Thompson can be backed for the publicly-voted BBC gong at a monster 40/1 that could like an exceptionally shrewd investment when the last firework has exploded over Rio de Janerio next summer.
Both the Liverpool Harriers athlete’s performance in the Czech capital and her reaction to victory spoke volumes for her potential to make a mark in Brazil.
Head and shoulders above a tightly-bunched chasing pack she finished 304 points clear of her closest pursuer, breaking 2012 Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill’s British record in the process.
Yet after the race, deep in the bowels of the city’s O2 Arena there were tears, not of joy, but of bitter disappointment that she had not broken the world record which had seemed so close even during the 800m that closed the competition.
KJT fell just 13 points short, but her performance marked her out as a contender to eclipse 2012 Olympic champion Ennis-Hill in Brazil next year and she could similarly surpass her achievements in SPOTY terms too.
The Sheffield heptathlete’s performance at the London games was enough to earn her second place in the 2012 BBC vote (in what was a bumper year for British sport), with only Sir Bradley Wiggins gaining a greater share of the ballot courtesy of his then-unparalleled win in the Tour de France.
Ennis-Hill herself received a greater share than Mo Farah, despite his 5,000 metres/10,000 metres double at the same games, suggesting any misgivings over the public’s appreciation of female sports stars’ exploits are wide of the mark where stellar achievement is concerned.
Paula Radcliffe, Dame Kelly Holmes and Zara Phillips all struck for the XX chromosome combo in a six-year period of mid-noughties enlightenment and Johnson-Thompson is well positioned to emulate Holmes’ 2004 Olympic gold/SPOTY double in 2016.
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