Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium reigns supreme in Olympic heptathlon

Thiam becomes only the second woman after Jackie Joyner-Kersee to win back-to-back Olympic titles in the event. The Netherlands claim silver and bronze.

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Belgium’s Nafi Thiam successfully defended her Olympic heptathlon title highlighting her class in the combined events over two days in Tokyo 2020.

The 26-year-old Thiam became only the second woman to win back-to-back titles in the event since U.S. legend Jackie Joyner-Kersee in Barcelona 1992.

Thiam amassed a total of 6,791 points over the seven events followed by a Dutch 2-3 on the podium with Anouk Vetter (6,689) and Emma Oosterwegel (6,590) winning the silver and bronze medals.

Thiam has been the leading heptathlete over the last five years with her breakthrough in Rio 2016 before she was crowned 2017 world champion and winning the 2019 silver medal. 

Reigning world champion Katarina Johnson Thompson, who made a comeback from an Achilles injury, was in the hunt before a calf injury in the 200m ended her competition after completing three events. 

Thiam was in third position after the first day but surged into an overall lead producing best efforts in the long jump and the javelin throw. She was the top athlete in the high jump the day before. 

“It feels so good. I can't believe it. I am so emotional I can't describe it," an elated Thiam said. "The first day was difficult for me. So on day two I had to really focus. I knew I had to do something really good in the long jump and javelin.

"In the 800m I was hoping to do a bit better but I think it was a really positive race and in the end I got the medal. I am so happy."