Lewis backs Johnson-Thompson to be a force in 2015 and 2016

Olympic champion Denise Lewis believes heptathlon Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s enforced absence from this summer’s major championships will prove a blessing in disguise.

Johnson-Thompson was widely tipped as the one to fill the void left by Jessica Ennis-Hill this summer after the London 2012 Olympic heptathlon champion took time out to give birth to her first child.

However a niggling foot injury forced Johnson-Thompson to watch on as first the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and then the European Championships in Zurich came and went.

The 21-year-old spent eight weeks out with a stress reaction in her foot but she has recently insisted she is ready to come back with a vengeance next year.

And Lewis, winner of Olympic heptathlon gold at Sydney 2000, insists the break will only make her stronger with next year’s World Championships and Rio 2016 on the horizon.

“Everyone has to unfortunately experience what it feels like to go through the ups and downs of sport,” she said.

“She will be a better athlete from the experience of missing the Commonwealth Games and European Championships.

“I’ve missed major championships before and her predecessor Jessica Ennis-Hill also missed the 2008 Beijing Olympics with a foot injury. You saw what Jessica then went on to do.

“It happens and it’s the nature of the sport but it’s about how you grow and what you learn from it that will make you a better athlete when you really need it most.

“I think she’s had a fantastic season regardless of missing those two championships but she has plenty more time to make up for this injury.

“I expect her to be a force in Rio 2016 for sure but also at the World Championships in Beijing next year.”

© Sportsbeat 2014