Report19 Jul 2022

Anna Hall’s star power continues to grow with bronze medal in heptathlon


Anna Hall (© Jay Bendlin / WCH Oregon22)

For the better part of the past 25 years, the United States hasn’t had much presence in the heptathlon in major global championships. 

Those days appear to be over. 

Anna Hall wrapped up two days of competition Monday by taking the heptathlon bronze medal at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22. 

Hall had a personal best by almost 300 points, improving from 6,458 points to 6,755 points at the reimagined Hayward Field at the University of Oregon. 

“I’m just really proud and excited that I could do it on home soil,” Hall said. 

Hall finished third behind Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium and Anouk Vetter of the Netherlands. Thiam, the 2016 and 2020 Olympic gold medalist scored 6,947 points to win her second World Athletics Championships gold after also winning in 2017 in London. Vetter, the 2020 Olympic silver medalist, scored 6,867 points. 

“I didn’t really know how much I was going to PR by, but I knew that I would because both of my scores that were in the 6400s this year, I had some pretty big mess ups and just left a lot of points on the table,” Hall said. “So, I knew I had a shot at putting a pretty good one together. I didn’t know if it would come together, but luckily it did.” 

Putting together heptathlon success on the international stage has been difficult for the United States since the retirement of Jackie Joyner-Kersee, easily the greatest heptathlete ever. Hall’s bronze medal was the first medal won by the United States in the heptathlon at a World Athletics Championships since Sheila Burrell won the bronze medal at the 2001 Edmonton World Championships. In the Olympics, the only medal won by the United States since Joyner-Kersee's retirement was a silver medal by Hyleas Fountain in 2008. 

“What a great start for Anna to be able to get on the podium on American soil, very first time, rise to the occasion, showing what a true champion is all about,” said Joyner-Kersee, who watched Hall’s performance trackside over the two-day, seven-event discipline. 

Hall has had a season full of championships and big-time performances, but it hardly looked like that would be the case a little over a year ago. After her freshman season at the University of Georgia, Hall came to Hayward Field for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field and in the first event of the heptathlon, the 100m hurdles, she fell over a hurdle late in the race and broke her left foot 

After having surgery, her offseason consisted of rehabilitating the foot and transferring colleges from Georgia to Florida. 

“I didn’t know what this year was going to look like for me," Hall said. “I didn’t know if I was going to be ready for indoors. I really wasn’t expecting to PR this year, but then I started seeing some progress in the fall and kind of started getting excited and got my confidence back.” 

Hall won the pentathlon at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March in helping lead Florida to the team championship. When the season shifted outdoors, Hall had two heptathlons where she scored over 6,400 points, including a 6.458-point performance in May when she won the U.S. Combined Events Championships to qualify for WCH Oregon22. Hall punctuated that performance by running the 800m, the final event of the heptathlon, in 2 minutes, 3.11 seconds, an American heptathlon record and the third-fastest 800m in heptathlon history. 

“That’s a rarity,” Joyner-Kersee said. “I think that says a lot about her spirit. What I love about her spirit is she enjoys every event, gives her all, good, bad, or indifferent, you see that smile, and that to me says a lot. And then to be able to run the 800, she is not afraid of working hard. She’s not afraid of making that commitment to be the best, whatever it takes to be the best.” 

Joyner-Kersee said there was no better example of that spirit than the NCAA Outdoor Championships where Hall ran the 400m hurdles final before lining up for the heptathlon 800 only about 20 minutes later. She finished second in the 400m hurdles to give Florida valuable team points in winning the team title. Her lead in the heptathlon was so big that despite a time 18 seconds slower than her personal best in the 800, she still won comfortably. 

"That shows her heart, and to be able to do that, she’s the right person for this event to continue to take it to the next level,” Joyner-Kersee said. 

Hall has long admired the multi-event stars that came before her and said two people she often looked up to when she was younger were two-time Olympic decathlon gold medalist Ashton Eaton, and Thiam. On Sunday, she found herself competing against Thiam, one of only four heptathletes to score over 7,000 points, and Great Britain’s Katerina Johnson-Thompson, who won the heptathlon at the 2019 World Athletics Championships with 6,981 points in becoming the No. 6 performer all-time. 

“It was so cool,” Hall said. “Kind of have to ease back my fangirling. I actually saw Nafi for the first time at the practice track a few days ago and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, the Olympic champion is here.’ And then once we got to the meet, I’m just competing, but definitely a lot of respect and admiration for them. Super happy that I competed with them.” 

Hall more than held her own, finishing Sunday’s first day in third place thanks to personal bests of 13.67m in the shot put and 23.03 seconds in the 200 meters. In one of her favorite events, the high jump, she cleared 1.83m and 1.86m, heights she hadn’t reached since her 2021 indoor season at Georgia, before the broken foot. 

Hall fell to fourth place after the long jump to open Monday’s competition, but bounced right back with a 62-centimeter personal best in the javelin that was also a 2.90m season best to put her comfortably in third place entering the 800m. She entered the 800m with a personal best well ahead of the field and capped off the bronze-medal performance by running 2:06.67. 

“I was really happy with the javelin,” Hall said. “For me, that event has kind of been two steps forward, one step back. When I start working on technique, I get worse, but I know I have to work on it to improve in the long run. Took a couple of steps back this year working on the technique so I’m glad that it was finally showing and going in the right direction.” 

And waiting for Hall after the heptathlon was Joyner-Kersee. 

“She said she was really proud of me, and she had fun watching,” Hall said. “She showed me a clip of her cheering for me in the 800. She was jumping up and down the last 100 meters so that was really, really cool.” 

Hall turned 21 in March and her progress this year was impressive considering not only her broken foot, but her heptathlon PR was 6,200 points entering the season. Hall said she’s done competing for this season and will take a couple of weeks off before starting to focus on her fall training program. She’ll also think over whether she’ll compete collegiately next season or turn pro, although there is less pressure to go pro now with college athletes being able to make money off their name, image, and likeness. 

“I feel like I still have a lot of events where I’m really raw, and I’m young, so I’m just excited to see where I can go from here,” Hall said. 

Joyner-Kersee is excited for Hall’s future and the prospect of the U.S. no longer lagging behind other countries in the heptathlon. 

“She is it,” Joyner-Kersee said. “Star power is on her, and she’s performing.” 

By Ashley Conklin