MEDAL hopeful Holly Bleasdale admits the pressure will be on when the Olympics start for real this summer.
She is one of the hot favourites in the women’s pole vault at the 2012 London Games after enjoying an amazing rise to prominence over the past year.
Having never attempted the discipline until around four years ago, Bleasdale can boast the third highest jump ever recorded in the world indoors.
The athlete – who lives in Abram and is a big Wigan Athletic fan – leaped 5.87m, in Villeurbanne, France, at the start of this year.
Only outdoor and indoor world record holder, Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva and USA’s Jenn Suhr – who will both be Bleasdale’s main rivals in London – have jumped higher indoors.
And now, at the tender age of just 20, she is being tipped to be one of Team GB’s golden girls this summer.
Bleasdale said: “There is quite a lot of pressure on me. People expect me to win a medal, but I’ve just got to think that I am quite young.
“I’ve got another 10 years in the sport and maybe another two or three Olympics left in me.
“I’ve got to use this year’s Olympics as an experience to learn from because I think that is what I’m lacking at the moment.
“I’m lacking that experience which the other girls have.”
Despite not trying to heap too much pressure on herself in what will be her first ever experience of an Olympic Games, the competitive instinct in Bleasdale means she has her sights on a medal – hopefully gold.
“I think a medal is very realistic for me, but because I’m still young, I’m trying to play it cool,” she said.
“So I’ll be going into the competition, looking to make the final – I will be happy with a top-six place.
“But every day when I’m training, I’m training to win a medal.” Bleasdale, who returned to Runshaw College – where she used to study – last week to give sports students a master class in the art of pole vaulting, got her first taste of the Olympic Stadium at the weekend when she took part in a test event.
She said: “Going to the Olympic Stadium was kind of just a training session for me.
“It didn’t go the best, but I hadn’t prepared for it. The week before I’d had a really heavy week training-wise.
“But to go there – the stadium is massive. It was amazing and quite daunting to be there and see it all.
“It’s made me so much more excited and motivated me to train even harder and be back there in August.”
l Bleasdale will join a star-studded line-up including Jessica Ennis at the BBC-televised Powerade Great City Games, in Manchester, on May 20. She will display her talents in an arena in Albert Square, close to Deansgate.