Anna Hall entered the 800-meter race — the final event of the women’s heptathlon at the 2023 World Athletics Championships — on Sunday 43 points behind Great Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson. Hall did everything she could to make up the deficit, winning the race by 1.54 seconds.
It wasn’t quite enough though. Johnson-Thompson finished the 800m in second place, and her time gave her enough points to beat Hall — who was battling a PCL injury and a bone bruise — by 20 points in the overall event, the tightest margin ever in the heptathlon at worlds.
“I went for it,” Hall said after the race. “Very bittersweet. I really wanted gold and I just fought my heart out and it just wasn’t there this year for me. Kat was just better today and I got beat.”
The 22-year-old’s silver medal makes her just the second American woman to earn a heptathlon medal at more than one world championships, joining three-time Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee. The legend has served as a mentor for Hall and was in Budapest, Hungary, to cheer her on.
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“What I see are all the tools to rewrite the record books,” Joyner-Kersee said about Hall in an interview with the Associated Press last month. “You’re seeing greatness in motion without even knowing the greatness is before you, because of her natural ability. When you see Anna compete, she competes with joy.”
Originally from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, where she attended Valor Christian High School, Hall began her college career at the University of Georgia before transferring to the University of Florida, where she won national championships in the pentathlon and heptathlon last year. Hall turned pro in August 2022.
One of the defining moments of Hall’s young career came at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials when she crashed in the 100-meter hurdles. In addition to losing out on a chance to compete at the Tokyo Olympics, Hall had to spend months rehabbing a broken foot.
Since recovering from the injury, Hall has established herself as one of the sport’s rising young stars. She picked up a bronze medal at last summer’s world championships and set a new American record in the pentathlon at February’s USATF Indoor Track & Field Championships.
Hall says her faith in God has played an important role in her career, specifically after the injury. She recently told Olympics.com that God used the experience to change the way she views her sport.
“The injury was a really big inflection point in my career,” she said. “I honestly don’t think I would have done what I did last year had I not gotten injured. As much as it hurt and I was so upset and I cried for months and I felt so bad for myself, I really think, honestly, that was God’s way of showing me, ‘OK, you need to change the way you’re looking at track.’”
Included in Hall’s Instagram bio are the words “follower of Christ,” and she often includes “#Histiming” in her posts. She referenced Romans 8:18 in a post on Sunday reflecting on her performance at worlds.
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Speaking with Olympics.com in June, Hall said she was grateful that other people were drawing inspiration from her journey.
“I would say that I’m actually thankful for [the injury],” she said. “I think it just made last year just a really great story that a lot of other people have told me they were able to relate to… or that it helped them get through an injury. And so that’s been really, really special to me.”
Hall now turns her attention to the 2024 Paris Olympics, where she will be among the favorites to win a medal next summer. The last American to win an Olympic heptathlon medal was Hyleas Fountain in 2008 (silver); the last American to win gold in an Olympic heptathlon was Joyner-Kersee in 1992.
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