Olympian Katarina Johnson-Thompson Jumps to New Heights with Nike

Olympian Katarina Johnson-Thompson Jumps to New Heights with Nike

Olympian Katarina Johnson-Thompson (KJT) is no stranger
to hurdling obstacles – she currently holds the British record in
both indoor high jump and long jump. As she’s always pushing to
break boundaries, she makes on obvious choice as a brand rep for
Nike, who we teamed up with on an editorial in Iceland for our
latest issue, Vol. 13:

SUITCASE Magazine: How did you get into sport? Did you
come from an athletic background?

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: No,
I got into sport through my mum. She was a dancer and she travelled
around the world for her career and that’s what she really wanted
me to do. She pretty much forced me to dance when I was young, from
ballet to tap, so I was pretty sporty from a young age. She claims
that’s why I am good at jumps because they had me jumping when I
was small. But I hated dancing because I was a tomboy, so when I
quit that I had to find a different hobby; she instilled the need
to have a hobby outside of school in me. I went through a couple of
sports and eventually found athletics and it stuck.

SM: Was it something that you always knew you wanted to
pursue professionally or was there a turning point for

KJT: For me there were a couple of turning
points. I always knew in my head what I wanted to do. I was doing
athletics from year seven and it was the one thing I really
enjoyed. I used to go straight from school to the track and my mum
would meet me there. When I knew I was able to do it professionally
was probably when I qualified for the Olympics at the age of 19,
which was a big turning point. The Olympics is basically the
pinnacle of any athlete’s career, so when I qualified for that and
made it there I was like “this is what I want to do”.

SM: What was the hardest thing about breaking into the

KJT: I think it came quite smoothly for me.
There was an age where a lot my friends dropped out because they
didn’t take an interest or it took too much of their time and they
wanted to be different places, but there was nothing else I wanted
to do.

SM: In terms of staying motivated, is it ever a
situation of ‘mind over matter’? Does your mind ever create
boundaries – more so than physical limitations – or are you always
confident in your talent?

KJT: Yes, probably when I get to the high jump
I have to encourage myself. I think it’s more mental than anything
else as your target is there in front of you. If it’s on a height
I’ve never jumped before I’ve got to psyche myself up for it.
There’s other events like sprints and long-jump where you just run
down, jump and hope for the best. So definitely in the high-jump
event it’s mind over matter.

SM: To what extent does being a successful athlete mean
that you’ve had to sacrifice your relationships and social life? In
terms of your personal life, are there sacrifices you’ve made that
you regret?

KJT: At the moment I probably miss my dogs and
that’s about it.

SM: As a young woman, do you ever think that there are
more boundaries for you to break?

KJT: I think in athletics there are always
records to break whoever you are.

SM: What has been your greatest

KJT: Maybe the high jump that’s the first
record I broke or the pentathlon getting the second best ever score
in the world.

SM: What has been your greatest setback? How do you
deal with disappointment in your career?

KJT: Probably Beijing but I’ve come out the
other side now and it’s motivated me for this season. I’ve got a
bigger and better motivation to come back and prove that I can win
it in Rio. It has toughened me up and made me learn things aren’t
all plain sailing.

SM: Are there any hurdles that you still wish to

KJT: Yeah I think so. Every athlete’s dream is
to win an Olympic gold but I think I want to do that at least twice
in my career, and I want to get certain point scores before I
retire too. I don’t have to do that in the Olympics but I want to
know I can achieve my very best.

SM: What boundaries do you want to continue to push in
your career?

KJT: My targets in the high jump and long jump
and then the heptathlon. But what I need to overcome is probably
the shot put and javelin; they are my weaker events that I want to
get stronger in. I know I am not going to be great at them but I
just want to get better in them.

This article was written in collaboration with

Discover More
Brazilian World Cup Beach Towns