Niamh Emerson fired up to continue GB heptathlon success story at Tokyo Olympics

Niamh Emerson lost out to her sister the last time she went to an Olympics. Next time she is not planning on bowing to anyone.

Emerson is the latest star heptathlete off Britain's production line, following Denise Lewis, Kelly Sotherton, Jess Ennis-Hill and current world champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

She is 21, has not competed for 14 months and will likely not to do a heptathlon before May 2021 – two years since her last.

Yet such is her talent that Ennis-Hill declared: “Niamh is so impressive – she’s going to be rivalling Kat soon.”

It was watching Ennis-Hill in London at the 2012 Olympics that persuaded Emerson multi-eventing was for her.

Not that she saw her heroine live – she lost out in a family draw for the best tickets to the Games.

“My sister went with mum and saw Usain Bolt,” said the Derbyshire starlet. “I didn't. I went with dad and saw a load of heats – no finals, no Jess, Mo or Greg!

“But it was still really inspiring. And I vividly remember the excitement watching Super Saturday back home in our living room.”

Six years on Emerson was crowned world junior champion before stepping into the senior ranks and taking bronze behind champion Johnson-Thompson at the Commonwealth Games.

The following year it was pentathlon silver at the European Indoors, again behind KJT, in a teenage world record.

The Red Bull athlete would have been at the Olympics now but for the Covid pandemic, yet far from derail her the postponement plays into her hands.

Emerson explained: “I had knee surgery last summer and have spent a whole year rehabbing then training just to be able to train.

“Having a year to actually train for the Olympics is a different ball game, particularly given the motivation I took from seeing Kat win in Doha.

“People ask if our country's amazing success in heptathlon puts pressure on me. I really don’t look at it like that. I’m not fazed because I don’t overthink things.

“Kat and Denise, Kelly and Jess are all so different. They were all hugely successful, but they did their own thing. Which is what I’m doing. The only expectation I feel comes from within.”

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