Bleasdale gets early practice at London 2012 Stadium

Pole-vaulter Bleasdale shot to fame four months ago clearing 4.87m indoors to put her third on the all-time list behind world-record holder and defending Olympic champion Yelena Isinbayeva.

Weeks later the 20 year-old, who only took up the sport four years ago, won World Indoor bronze in Istanbul just missing out on silver.

It prompted pole-vault legend Sergei Bubka to tip her for an Olympic medal this summer.

On Saturday she competed at the Olympic Stadium in front of 40,000 people at the British Universities Championships (BUCS) — which doubled up as the athletics test event for London 2012.

The Manchester Metropolitan University student’s best effort on a cold and windy night was 4.35m after she failed three attempts at 4.50m

But Bleasdale, from Chorley in Lancashire, admitted: “I’ve not prepared for this competition at all. I had weight-lifting and running sessions on Friday which was a heavy day.

“It took me six hours in the car to get here and I then had to take the pole through the Westfield Shopping Centre which wasn’t ideal preparation.

“But I don’t regret coming here because I wanted to get a feel for the place. The Stadium is amazing and it’s just made me want to train harder and come back here this summer.”

While stars such as Jessica Ennis, Christine Ohuruogu and Phillips Idowu prefer to wait until the Olympics kick-off before competing at the iconic venue Bleasdale believes it will help her get the edge over her rivals.

Bleasdale said: “I know some of the athletes don’t want to go before the Games themselves but I wanted to familiarise myself.

“Pole vaulting is very technical and things like sorting out where the wind will be coming from is crucial.

Bleasdale, who only took up the event in 2008 after going for a taster session at a local athletics club, said: “Four years ago I wasn’t even doing pole-vaulting and now I have the chance to compete in the Olympics, at home.

“I also know I have so many years ahead of me and hopefully other Games too.”


By Andy Bull

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Holly Bleasdale

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