Holly Bleasdale aims for glory after Olympic failure

Holly Bleasdale gives Sheffield schoolboy Owen Starkey some technical tips as she prepares for the UK Championships.  Picture:PA
Holly Bleasdale gives Sheffield schoolboy Owen Starkey some technical tips as she prepares for the UK Championships. Picture:PA
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HOLLY Bleasdale believes she was “set up to fail” at the Olympics but is now confident of claiming European pole vault glory.

Bleasdale finished sixth at London 2012, hardly a failure for someone aged just 20 at the time and coping with high expectations and difficult conditions inside the Olympic Stadium.

But, after a change of training venues and coach, along with numerous alterations to her technique, the 21-year-old British record holder is aiming high at the European Indoor Championships in March.

“I’m pretty confident I can go there and win gold,” said Bleasdale, who will look to seal her place on the team for Gothenburg with a third straight victory at the trials and UK Championships in Sheffield this weekend.

“I’m very positive. I’ve jumped against most of the girls who will be there. There are a couple of girls who can jump 4.60 metres or 4.70m but, if I go there and do 4.80m, I think that will be enough to win.

“In my head, it’s important to win but Dan [Pfaff] and Scott [Simpson] say I’ve made so many good changes it doesn’t matter even if I bomb out. But I really want to go there and win. It’s a good stepping stone. This year is when I need to make the changes so I can jump over five metres.”

Those changes include leaving long-time coach Julien Raffalli and working with Pfaff and Simpson, with her time split between Cardiff and Arizona. Despite setting a British record (4.87m) and winning world indoor bronze in 2012, Bleasdale’s performance in the Olympics meant there was still plenty to work on.

“The Olympics experience was amazing,” added Bleasdale, who has won all three of her competitions this season and is second on the world rankings. “At the time, I felt a lot of pressure but now I’m happy with sixth. I know I couldn’t have jumped any better.

“The way I vaulted back then with the wind and how I carried the pole in my run-up set me up to fail. If I’d carried the pole the way I do now – more down the side than out in front of me – the wind would not have affected me and I probably would have jumped 4.60m. On the first day in Arizona I sat down with Dan and watched a video of my jumps. He was saying we need to change that, that, that... But it was all positive if I needed to change so much and could still jump 4.87m.”

Two of Britain’s Olympic medallists will also be in action in Sheffield, with 400m silver medallist Christine Ohuruogu dropping down to the 60m and 200m, while high jump bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz will be looking to build on a jump of 2.29m last month in Glasgow.