By Chris Chavez
August 9, 2023
Olympic champion and reigning World champion Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium has withdrawn from this month’s World Championships due to injury.
What you need to know:
– A representative for Thiam issued the following statement via the Royal Belgian Athletics League: “Nafi's preparations were hindered with problems to her Achilles and after different consultations with her team, she decided not to risk aggravating the problem by taking part in Budapest. Nafi is disappointed to miss a major championship but maintains a strong vision about her long-term ambitions and the Paris Olympic Games.”
– Thiam withdrew from the Belgian national championships after two events due to an Achilles tendon problem. She also scratched from the Monaco and London Diamond League meets.
– The 28-year-old Thiam broke the pentathlon world record at the European Indoor Championships back in March of this year with a 5055-point total.
What she said:
Via Instagram: "I’ve taken the decision not to participate in the world championships in Budapest later this month. The last part of my preparation has been disturbed by achilles tendons problems and I do not want to risk aggravating and jeopardize the coming olympic year. It is frustrating having to skip a major championship and not getting to show what I am capable of, but opportunities to grow are wherever you’re trying to find them. My road to Paris is just starting a bit earlier than planned and I’m already at work to get there better than ever"
What this means:
At last month’s U.S. Championships, I asked World bronze medalist Anna Hall to explain to the casual track and field fan why they should watch the women’s heptathlon in Budapest.
She said: “It’s going to be war and I’m really, really excited for it… Between the people who are vying for the gold medal, we have very different strengths. It’s going to be about how far can I outrun you in this or how far can I outrun you in that. It’s an interesting and dynamic storyline, if you do a little research to be able to queue in. It’s probably all going to come down to the 800m and I think it’s going to be a really exciting finish to decide the world’s top female athlete.”
Even accounting for our American bias, I think everyone would agree that Anna Hall’s gold medal chances just improved with Thiam and Poland’s Adrianna Sulek out for Budapest (Sulek just announced she is missing the meet due to pregnancy). Last year’s silver medalist Anouk Vetter of the Netherlands returns. She didn’t finish the competition in Götzis earlier this year, when Hall moved up to No. 5 on the all-time list with a 6,988 point total.
Hall’s PB is 25 points shy of Thiam’s No. 3 all-time mark. Among active heptathletes, the next highest personal best is 2019 World champ Katarina Johnson-Thompson of Great Britain with 6,981 points (which she achieved in her gold medal-winning performance). Johnson-Thompson finished runner-up to Hall at Götzis.
We’ll have to wait for a Thiam vs. Hall rematch, which was highly anticipated after her coach said he wasn’t worried much about Hall’s rapid ascent in the multis.
Chris Chavez launched CITIUS MAG in 2016 as a passion project while working full-time for Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and grew his humble blog into a multi-pronged media company. He completed all six World Marathon Majors and is an aspiring sub-five-minute miler.