Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Holly Targets Pole Position after Taking a Giant Leap

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Holly Targets Pole Position after Taking a Giant Leap

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Majendie Sports Correspondent

LAST season was something of a crash course for Holly Bleasdale, now she feels like she is studying for a PhD in the pole vault.

In 2012, only two women jumped higher than her lofty effort of 4.87metres at the start of the year.

It marked her out as a potential medal candidate at the Olympics only for her Games ambitions to end in tears (below) on the mat as she managed a best vault of an underwhelming 4.55m.

Since then, her life has been turned upside. First, her boyfriend Paul Bradshaw proposed to her by the canal at the Olympic Village barely an hour after her competition, an event she describes as "the best thing ever", with the wedding set for October 25 next year.

In addition, the pair have since relocated to dual training bases in the contrasting climates of Arizona and Cardiff, with Bleasdale joining the super group of Dan Pfaff, who guided Greg Rutherford to long jump gold.

The 21-year-old has always been a bundle of energy and enthusiasm but her positivity at the start of 2013 appears to have attained even greater heights, something she believes will be reflected in her vaulting.

"Dan knows a lot about a lot of things and he doesn't see himself as a coach, more like a teacher," she says.

"It's like I'm on a PhD in pole vaulting.

It's quite intense but that's good and I'm loving that."

The change has not been without difficulties.

Bleasdale split with her former coach Julien Raffalli-Ebezant, who had helped uncover her talent, while her fiance, himself an 800m runner, opted to give up his teaching job to enable Bleasdale to pursue her athletic ambitions.

"It was hard to end with Julien as we've been together for four years and he'd taken me to 4.87m," she says.

"So having that conversation was tough but I realise now that it was a good decision for me with all the things I've changed that have made me a better pole vaulter."

The changes have been plentiful, from her run-up to the grip on the pole, but she admits these alteration will not necessarily bear fruit this season.

"I've always sprinted for the whole of my run-up so I often come into the vault a bit out of control," she says. …

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