Nafissatou Thiam is targeting a comeback in the combined events at the Roma 2024 European Athletics Championships from 7-12 June.

Thiam’s primary goal will be to secure the Olympic heptathlon qualifying standard of 6480 points—a score she has surpassed in every heptathlon she has contested since her breakthrough year in 2016—but the Belgian could also have her sights set on capturing a record third successive European title in an event she has largely dominated since winning gold at the 2016 Olympic Games.

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Thiam completed the set of major titles with gold at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships before completing the Grand Slam of titles for a second time one day before her 28th birthday at the 2022 European Athletics Championships in Munich.

Thiam is targeting a hat-trick of Olympic titles in Paris 2024 and the Roma 2024 European Athletics Championships will be an important step to fulfilling these lofty ambitions. No male or female athlete has won three Olympic combined events titles.

“[Thiam] is looking forward to competing at the highest level again and trying to qualify for Paris,” said a statement from her management group as reported by Sporza.be.

In the meantime, Thiam will continue to train in the warm and sunny climes of South Africa under the auspices of Michael Van der Plaetsen—the brother and coach of 2016 European decathlon champion Thomas—who took over from her long-time coach Roger Lespagnard at the end of 2022.

And even though Thiam was forced to miss the World Athletics Championships in Budapest last year – the first championships Thiam has missed as a senior – the fruits of their collaboration were clear for all to see at the Istanbul 2023 European Athletics Indoor Championships, where Thiam broke the world pentathlon record with 5055 points.

But what pleased Thiam the most was the realization that her best days and even bigger scores could still very possibly lie ahead.

In an interview with European Athletics last year, Thiam said: “Obviously, it’s the world record, and I was so happy, but what’s even more exciting for me was how much better I could still do and how much potential is still there.

“After the first few months of the different environment and training setup, I knew it was a good decision, but to have the competition result back it up gives me a lot of confidence.”

The heptathlon in Rome 2024 could potentially feature all three medallists from that historic and memorable pentathlon competition in Istanbul 2023.

Poland’s Adrianna Sulek, who also broke the previous world record to win silver behind Thiam and has since given birth to her first child, hasn’t ruled out a return in Rome while Thiam’s teammate Noor Vidts – who recently defended her world indoor pentathlon title – has said the European Athletics Championships feature in her plans for the summer.

And it is by no means inconceivable that Great Britain’s reigning world champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson could also line up for the heptathlon in Rome either which would set up an intriguing and mouth-watering rematch of the 2018 European Athletics Championships where Thiam was pushed all the way by the Brit, winning with a world lead of 6816 points to Johnson-Thompson’s 6759 points.

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