Katarina Johnson-Thompson's athletics career appeared in doubt after a catastrophic ruptured Achilles tendon less than three years ago, but the British heptathlete became a world champion once again on Sunday in a remarkable comeback story.
The 30-year-old, who also won the world title four years ago in Doha, secured heptathlon gold with a gutsy second-place finish in the 800 metres, the gruelling final event. Her personal-best time of two minutes 5.63 seconds was good enough to take the title.
"I just knew I could prove to myself and prove to all the people that I could still do it," an emotional Johnson-Thompson said. "This is the culmination of so much hard work. I'm so happy I'm crying. I can't help it. Today I know if I believed in myself I could do it."
Johnson-Thompson finished with 6,740 points while 22-year-old Anna Hall of the United States, last year's world bronze medallist, captured the silver with 6,720 and Anouk Vetter of the Netherlands took the bronze (6,501).
Johnson-Thompson led Hall by 143 points heading into the 800, but knew the young American is excellent over the distance.
"It wasn't easy," the Briton said. "In the 800, I wasn't thinking anything at all, I was just staring at the back of (Hall's) legs thinking 'Don't let her get away'.
"I haven't run those sort of times for four years but the last lap was amazing. I can't take it in, it's making me emotional."
Hall ran 2:04.09.
An exhausted Johnson-Thompson dropped to her hands and knees on the track and peered up at the scoreboard in joyous disbelief when the final results were posted.
"It's been so hard in the last few years but now it seems like it was all worth it," she said. "I've won medals before but this means so much."
World and Olympic champion Nafi Thiam of Belgium missed the event due to injury.
Johnson-Thompson ruptured her Achilles in 2020, and has had several setbacks since, including a torn calf muscle during the Tokyo Olympics 200m that forced her to withdraw.
She has said her goal is an Olympic medal in what will be her fourth appearance in 2024 in Paris. Her best finish was sixth in Rio in 2016.
She struggled to a disappointing eighth-place finish at the worlds last year in Eugene, but rebounded to capture gold at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Her only other heptathlon since then was a second-place finish at the Hypo-Meeting in Gotzis, Austria in May.
Johnson-Thompson, who began working with new coach Aston Moore last summer, was well back in fifth place after three events on Saturday, but climbed into silver-medal position behind Hall with the fastest 200m to close Day One.
The British athlete overtook Hall with her leap of 6.54m in the long jump - the best in the competition - to open Day Two, and remained in the lead after the javelin.