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Johnson-Thompson withdraws from European Championships

Katarina Johnson-Thompson
Katarina Johnson-Thompson will aim to win her first Olympic medal at Paris 2024 [Getty Images]

British medal hope Katarina Johnson-Thompson has withdrawn from the remainder of the heptathlon at the European Athletics Championships in Rome.

The reigning world champion, 31, had dropped to ninth place following the shot put, the third event of the opening day of the competition.

Her coach, Aston Moore, said the decision had been taken due to a "small niggle in her right leg".

Moore added: "We don't want to risk losing any time from training which could be the result if she was to carry on competing with it for another day."

Twelve months after winning her second world title, Johnson-Thompson will bid for a first Olympic medal in Paris this summer, where two-time champion Nafissatou Thiam will represent the Briton's main obstacle to gold.

It is for that anticipated showdown that both athletes are aiming to be at their peak, and ultimately the reason why Johnson-Thompson has chosen not to continue in Italy.

She ended the morning session fourth overall, running the 100m hurdles in 13.66 seconds before clearing 1.83m in the high jump.

And her deficit to Thiam, who led the standings after a best in the high jump of 1.95m, increased to 318 points as a throw of 12.44m in the shot put left her ninth on Friday evening.

After her first global triumph in 2019 preceded a career-threatening Achilles rupture, Johnson-Thompson's Olympic hopes were ruined by further injury heartbreak in Tokyo three years ago - and she will be determined for redemption in Paris.

Johnson-Thompson's decision to withdraw was announced shortly before the heptathlon's 200m heats, with the medals to be decided following the long jump, javelin and 800m events on Saturday.

Belgian Thiam ended day one on track to win a third successive European title - but came under pressure from compatriot Noor Vidts after four events.

Thiam, who ran the 200m in 24.81secs, saw her lead reduced to just 35 points after Vidts clocked 23.85secs, while Italy's Sveva Gerevini is 220 points behind in third.

Briton Jade O'Dowda will begin day two in ninth position after crossing the line in 24.82secs.

The 24-year-old had climbed to fifth with a shot put best of 12.82m, after earlier running 13.70secs in the 100m hurdles and clearing 1.83m in the high jump.