Katarina Johnson-Thompson

Born in Woolton, Liverpool on January 9, 1993, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, or ‘KJT’ for short, is an English heptathlete best known for winning the gold medal at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Dohar, Qatar. On that occasion, she recorded the highest mark in the high jump, 200 metres, long jump and 800 metres to set a new British record of 6,981 points.

Following a ruptured Achilles tendon towards the end of 2020, Johnson-Thompson barely competed before the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, where the women’s heptathlon commenced on August 4, 2021. In the final event on the first day, the 200 metres, she suffered a fresh calf injury, which caused her to pull up and fall to the track writhing in pain. She eventually picked herself up and hobbled to the finish, but was subsequently disqualified for leaving her lane and withdrew from the competition.

Johnson-Thompson had competed in the heptahlon at two previous Summer Olympics, finishing thirteenth, behind compatriot Jessica Ennis-Hill, in London in 2012 with 6,267 points and sixth in Rio de Janeiro with 6,235 points. On the latter occasion, she jumped 1.98 metres in the high jump – one centimetre higher than any if the medallists in the individual high jump competion – setting a new British record in the process.

Johnson-Thompson had also competed in the heptathlon at three World Athletics Championships prior to 2019, although her results were a little disappointing. In Moscow in 2013 she finished fifth, just 28 points behind bronze medallist Dafne Schippers, but in Beijing in 2015 she finished twenty-eighth, and last, after three fouls in the long jump and in London in 2017 only fifth, after clearing just 1.80 metres in the high jump.

Gay Kelleway

At the time of writing, Gay Kelleway has recently been in the news due to her involvement in ‘Racing To Help Ukraine’, a campaign seeking to promote human and equine welfare during the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War. In mid-April, 2022, Kelleway made the 2,000-mile round trip from her base in Newmarket, Suffolk to deliver essential supplies to an emergency stabling facility set up on the Ukranian-Polish border for horses rescued from the conflict.

Of course, Gay Kelleway is the daughter of the late Paul Kelleway, a highly successful National Hunt jockey and later a shrewd Flat trainer, who died from pancreatic cancer in 1999 aged 58. Like her father, Gay Kelleway first found fame as a jockey, becoming the first woman to ride a winner at Royal Ascot on Sprowston Boy in the Queen Alexandra Stakes in 1987.

Kelleway began training in 1991 and, nowadays, operates the aptly-titled Queen Alexandra Stables in the village of Exning, on the outskirts of Newmarket, and a small satellite yard in Lamorlaye, near Chantilly in northern France. On the other side of the English Channel, Kelleway rents part of the yard belonging to Myriam Bollack-Badel and her horses are supervised by her former assistant, Anne-Sophie Crombez, who is now an established trainer in France. In Flat racing, the French regulatory authority, France Galop, pays owners’ premiums of up to 64% on prize money won by horses bred in France, so this arrangement allows Kelleway to offer British owners the opportunity to win higher prize money.

On British soil, Kelleway enjoyed her most successful season, numerically, in 2008, when she saddled 48 winners. She has yet to come close to that figure since but, now into the veteran stage of her career, remains a refreshingly outspoken, often controversial, voice in the traditionally male-dominated world of horse racing.

Annika Sorenstam

Swedish-born Annika Sorenstam retired from competitive golf, for the first time, in 2008, with 72

Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) titles, including ten major championships, to her name. However, after 13 years in retirement, she returned to competition in the Gainbridge LPGA, played on her home course at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club in Orlando, Florida in February, 2021. She made the cut, but only just, and went on to finish seventy-fourth with a 13-over-par total of 301.

Nevertheless, the following August, Sorenstam produced a dominant display to win the US Senior Women’s Open, played at Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield, Connecticut, by eight strokes with a 12-under-par total of 276. That victory qualified her for the 2022 US Women’s Open, played at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in Southern Pines, North Carolina, where she won the second of her three US Women’s Open titles, by six strokes, in 1996. Reflecting on rounds of 74 and 81, which left her well outside the cutline at 13-over par, Sorenstam said, ‘I don’t get as mad as I used to,’ adding, ‘I can’t get upset anymore. It’s just great to be here and enjoy.’

Sorenstam turned professional in 1992 and, having been named Rookie of the Year on both sides of the Atlantic in 1993 and 1994, respectively, opened her account on the LPGA Tour with victory in the US Women’s Open, played at Broadmoor Golf Club in Colorado Springs, Colorado in July. 1995. On that occasion, Sorenstam recorded a one stroke victory over defending champion Meg Mallon and went on to be named LPGA Player of the Year, as she would for a record eight times in the next 10 years. She won Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2001 and the LPGA Championship and Women’s British Open in 2003, thereby completing a career Grand Slam.

Nicola Adams

Nicola ‘The Lioness’ Adams is a former professional boxer, who retired in November, 2019, with an undefeated 5-0-1 record, on medical advice. In the first round of what turned out to be her last fight – her first defence of her World Boxing Organisation (WBO) flyweight title against Mexican Maria Salinas at the Royal Albert Hall – Adams suffered a torn pupil. She subsequently retired due to fears of going blind.

Adams turned professional in January, 2017, but will probably always be best remembered for her amateur career. At the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, she beat Mary Kom of India in the semi-final and Ren Cancan of China in the final of the flyweight (51kg) division to become the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing. Four years later, in Rio de Janeiro, she again beat Ren Cancan in the semi-final and Sarah Ourahmoune of France in the final of the same division, thereby becoming the first British boxer for 92 years to defend an Olympic title.

At the 2007 European Amateur Boxing Championships in Vejle, Denmark, Adams won the silver medal in the bantamweight (54kg) division, thereby becoming the first Englishwoman to win a medal at a major boxing championship. Other highlights of her amateur career include four medals at the International Boxing Association (IBA) World Championships, a gold medal in Astana, Kazakhstan in 2016 and three silver medals, in Ningbo City, China in 2008, Bridgetown, Barbados in 2010 and Qinhuangdao, China in 2012. At the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Adams made history once again, beating Michaela Walsh of Northern Ireland to become the inaugural Commonwealth women’s flyweight champion.

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