Holly keeping feet on the ground

Olympic hopeful Holly Bleasdale
Olympic hopeful Holly Bleasdale

WIGAN-based pole vaulter Holly Bleasdale is not allowing herself to get too carried away with all the talk of her Olympic prospects.

The Great Britain ace has quite literally catapulted her way to the top of the world rankings after an impressive jump at a low key meet in Lyon, France just over a week ago – smashing her own British record in the process.

The 4.87m vault Bleasdale achieved in her last meet is the second highest jump by a woman inside – and only current Olympic champion Yelena Isinbayeva (5.00m) has gone higher.

But despite the expectation of being ranked number one and her rapid rise in the sport that she has only been doing for just three years, the Blackburn Harrier remains grounded and focused on her targets.

She said: “Obviously everyone has mentioned the medals to me but I think for me to get through to the final, with so much pressure on me being a home Olympics, and then doing the best I can is such a great thing.

“It will be such a great achievement and that’s what my aim is.

“I’m taking this year to be more about consistency so if I jump higher then that’s great but I’d rather have a year were I go to every competition and jump over 4.70 so I can go into London and think, ‘Oh I can definitely jump 70 more often than not, that is good enough for a medal’.”

Bleasdale, who lives in Abram, has always been involved in sport and had spells in gymnastics, hurdles and heptathlon before her coach Julien Raffalli-Ebezant introduced her to pole vault in a taster session at her club.

She had a natural talent for the sport and the 20-year-old athlete has never looked back – and she is determined to keep getting higher.

Whilst preparing to enter the gym to do a weights session Bleasdale revealed: “I have upped my training this year so my sessions are more intense and I’m doing a higher volume of training.

“I have also been working with a psychologist and a nutritionist to get the most out of being in an Olympic year so I’ve done quite a lot different this year and it seems to have paid off so far. Hopefully it will keep improving leading up to the Olympics.”

No matter how focused Bleasdale is, she does allow herself to get excited about the Games – which begins in less than six months.

Having been to a UK meeting in November given by UK Athletics Head Coach Charles Van Commenee, the young star was filled in about all things London 2012.

“We have been told we are going to get three times the amount of kit we actually need,” she smiled.

“There’s a massive warehouse and you go to different stations and collect like 50 t-shirts so it’s really exciting!

“I think we have been given a relatively good understanding of it which is good as it’s like a home feel advantage I guess. There’s so much to look forward to in the build-up.” A medal at London 2012 is a very realistic target considering how much Bleasdale, originally from the Euxton area, has improved in such a short period of time.

Expectations will be even higher if she manages to get a on the podium at the upcoming World Indoor Championships in Istanbul in March and the fact that she says she responds well to pressure bodes well.

She added: “I don’t know what it is about me whenever I go to a competition I always step it up so much.

“If I am having a good training session and maybe I am vaulting over 4.70 I know that when I go to a competition and the pressures on, I thrive off pressure so when I go to competitions I step it up and compete so much better so that’s kind of exciting.”

She added: “I have only been doing it for a short period of time I have not had a number of memories to look back. But I have always dreamt of going to the Olympics and for it to be in my home country it’s going to be so exciting”

Her next competitive action will be in Bydgoszcz, Poland next month.