Katarina Johnson-Thompson reveals she felt ‘scared to be too muscly’

Team GB athlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson has revealed she went through a phase where she was “scared to be too muscly”.

The heptathlete, 31, who speaks about body image in her upcoming memoir Unbroken, told British Vogue: “I got myself into a really negative headspace.

“Being in elite sport, you don’t see puppy fat and I was still a teenager – I still had the chubby cheeks. After the body fat thing, I went through a phase when I was scared to be too muscly.

“You’re comparing yourself to women who are at the top of their game and you’re like, ‘I don’t look like that’.”

In 2023, Johnson-Thompson won a heptathlon gold at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest and described the win as “so much sweeter”, given she was not expected to medal.

“It is maybe my favourite moment of my career,” she said.

“And I went to a Beyonce concert – I know I sound mental, but she looked at me and I dropped my phone.

“When I think of last summer, I don’t even think of Budapest sometimes, I just think of the Renaissance tour.”

The athlete also reflected on her friendship with fellow Liverpudlian – Killing Eve star Jodie Comer.

“Me and Jodie are in two different worlds,” she said.

“Any time I’m with Jodie, I don’t even think about people looking at me – I’m protective of her, almost.”

Johnson-Thompson, who withdrew from the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 due to injury and the European Athletics Championships in Rome last month as a precautionary measure, will be competing at the Olympics in Paris this summer.

She said: “I do feel that everyone is rooting for me, because they’ve seen the traumatic things, but I want to reclaim the image of myself.”

She added: “I struggled in 2022, thinking that I was past my best. Now I’m feeling like I’m at my best because of all the experiences that I’ve had. I feel like I can go on.”

See the full feature in the August issue of British Vogue, available via digital download and on newsstands from July 16.