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Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam successfully defends her heptathlon gold in Tokyo 

Thiam is the only heptathlete besides Jackie Joyner-Kersee to win two Olympic gold medals

2016 Olympic gold medallist Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium cements her name in the record books once again as she wins the women’s heptathlon with a score of 6,791 points. Belgium’s Thiam joins an exclusive club alongside the great heptathlete, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, as the only women with two Olympic gold medals in the event, and the only two heptathletes to repeat as Olympic champion.

Thiam trailed eventual silver medallist Anouk Vetter of the Netherlands for most of the competition, but made up a lot of ground in the long jump, javelin and 800m. Thiam did not hold back her glory or pride after finishing her 800m, as she shared a heartfelt athlete moment with her family, who were following back home in Belgium. In Paris 2024, Thiam will look to become the first athlete to successfully win three straight golds in a combined event at the Olympic Games. 

The bronze medal came down to a battle in the final event – the gruelling 800m – between the Netherlands’ Emma Oosterwegel (who trailed Kendell Williams of the US by only one point after six events) and Noor Vidts of Belgium (who had the fastest PB going into the race, and who won decisively in a PB of 2:09.05). Vidts has a very strong 800m and was way out in front, but was 50 points behind Oosterwegel, who gained a lot of ground with her very strong javelin throw, going into the race. Oosterwegel only needed to finish within five seconds of Vidts in order to overtake Williams for bronze – and she did. Oosterwegel’s 2:11.09 was a PB and earned her 949 points to Williams’s 866, and the bronze medal was hers.

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The story of the heptathlon was the horrific injury of Great Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who beat Thiam to win the 2019 world championships in Doha. Since then, Johnson-Thompson has had some nagging trouble with her Achilles, and unfortunately had to bow out of the heptathlon after rupturing it during the 200m portion of the event. 

Canadian-Chinese heptathlete Nina Schultz completed the heptathlon at the Tokyo Olympic games, finishing in 10th, just shy of her personal best score. Schultz is a former Canadian citizen and Commonwealth Games silver medallist who immigrated to China to fulfill her maternal grandmother’s Olympic dream. Her grandmother, Zheng Fengrong, a Chinese sporting celebrity, broke the high jump world record in 1957, which made her the first Chinese woman to hold a sports world record. Schultz wanted to follow in her footsteps, representing China on the world stage. 

Georgia Ellenwood
Georgia Ellenwood. Photo: Under Armour

Canada’s Georgia Ellenwood completed her first heptathlon while representing Canada on the world stage. Ellenwood attained a personal best in the high jump of 1.83m and came within milliseconds of her 200m personal best, set earlier this year in Götzis. Ellenwood had the pleasure of spending her birthday in Tokyo, as she turned 26 on day 2 of her competition. At the end of day 2, Ellenwood finished in 20th place with a score of 6,037 points. 

The action continues with the men’s 50K race walk in Sapporo on Friday morning (Thursday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. for Canadian viewers). For full schedule and results, click here