Olympics: Belgium's Nafi Thiam retains heptathlon title

Nafi Thiam dominated in the javelin and the long jump events to secure victory.
Nafi Thiam dominated in the javelin and the long jump events to secure victory.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Belgium’s Nafi Thiam won her second consecutive gold medal in the Olympic heptathlon on Thursday (Aug 5), dominating in the javelin and the long jump events to secure victory.

The Netherlands’ Anouk Vetter and Emma Oosterwegel won the silver and bronze medals respectively.

Thiam had ended Wednesday’s programme third in the standings, telling reporters she was feeling poorly throughout the first four events.

“The first day was difficult for me. So on day two I had to really focus,” Thiam said.

“I knew I had to do something really good in the long jump and javelin.”

She delivered on that goal, launching a mighty 54.68m throw in the javelin on her second attempt, her best performance this season, and coming up with a 6.60m leap in the long jump before finishing with 6,791 points.

“My coach was so positive and told me he believed in me today,” she said.

“I am really happy I was able to go through that and put my performances together.”

She beat Vetter by 102 points despite finishing seventh in the 800m in 2min 15.98sec. Oosterwegel earned 6,590 points overall during the two-day competition.

Thiam, 26, became the first woman since Jackie Joyner-Kersee in 1992 to win back-to-back Olympic heptathlon titles. She won the world title in 2017 and finished second at the 2019 World Championships.

“It feels so good. I can’t believe it. I am so emotional I can’t describe it,” she added.

Her fellow Belgian Noor Vidts produced a gutsy performance to win her 800m heat in an attempt to get on the podium, finishing more than two seconds ahead of Oosterwegel but ending up fourth in the standings.

The finale was without 2019 world champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson after the Briton’s gold medal bid ended on Wednesday due to a calf injury.