Pole vaulter Holly Bleasdale admits it is “weird” to be preparing for the Olympics having known little of her chosen event four years ago.
The 20-year-old had never even tried pole vaulting at the time of the Beijing Games but will enter London 2012 as a serious contender.
Since trying out the event for the first time at the age of 17, the former gymnast and runner has enjoyed such a meteoric rise that the great Yelena Isinbayeva is in her sights.
Bleasdale cleared 4.87 metres in January – the third highest of all time indoors – and set a new British outdoor record of 4.71m to qualify for the Games earlier last month.
Bleasdale said: “When it was Beijing I didn’t really know anything about pole vaulting. I was doing hurdles at the time, still involved in athletics and playing a bit of football.
“I didn’t really watch much athletics but remember seeing some of the key moments. It is kind of crazy now that I am at the Olympics. Hopefully I will do myself justice and compete really well.”
Double Olympic champion Isinbayeva, who boasts a world record of 5.06m, is the clear favourite but Bleasdale’s statistics compare favourably to those of the 30-year-old Russian at her age.
Bleasdale largely views London as a chance to gain valuable experience but she could have the potential to become a world star in her own right in future.
“I have had a rapid rise and established myself,” said Bleasdale, who comes from Euxton, near Chorley. “It’s come out of nowhere. I have trained so hard and it’s got me places. I am really privileged to be here and representing GB at a home Olympics.
“I have shocked myself how high I have jumped. When I jumped 4.87 it was a big shock to me.”