Holly Bleasdale gave the performance of the day as she recorded the best jump in the world this year, nailing her second-highest clearance to win the British indoor pole vault title with 4.77m. “I’m in a really good place,” said Bleasdale, who won bronze at the World Indoor Championships in 2012, before finishing sixth in her first Olympic final.
“Training is going well and everything seems to be slotting into place, so I just need to fine-tune things really. It gives me a lot of confidence, I’ve got a few more competitions now and every time I compete I get stronger.”
Bleasdale switched coaches last year to work with the American Dan Pfaff, who helped Greg Rutherford to Olympic gold in the long jump, and has since worked on changing her technique. The Lancastrian, who took up the sport four years ago, joined the competition at 4.35m, clearing 4.50m at her second attempt, before sailing over 4.65m. It was when the bar was moved to 4.77m, however, that Bleasdale stuttered, failing her first two attempts, before composing herself to soar over the height to a stadium record, which was greeted by rapturous applause.
“I was really happy when I cleared 4.77m on my last attempt. I didn’t quite hook things up how I’d like to but I can’t complain with 4.77m and I know that once I hook everything up I’ll be in a good place.”
The former world youth champion Asha Philip posted her own sensational victory, winning the women’s 60m in a personal best of 7.15sec to rank her third on the all-time British list. For a 22-year-old who lost five years of her career through injuries, breaking her leg in a trampolining accident, the victory was all the sweeter.
“I’m so happy that I’ve managed to time my championships perfectly,” said Philip, whose time ranks her joint-fastest in Europe this season. “I sometimes peak in the semis and this time I said I was going to relax, then go hard in the final, and that’s what I did. I’ve been working my socks off because I’ve got such a bad history of injuries, breaking my leg and so on, so it feels great to have come out and run as fast as I did.
“I’m happy that I’m on top of my game. I’m going to go to the Euros and I’m going to try to aim for a medal. It usually takes me about one competition every season to get back to grips with competing at a senior level, find out where I’m at, and now I’m confident that I can go on and keep producing fast times and just run.”
James Dasaolu won the men’s sprints in 6.58sec to become the third Briton to secure an automatic qualifying spot on the team travelling to the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg next month.
The fastest man over 60m hurdles in Europe this year, Andy Pozzi, was once again thwarted by a hamstring problem, preventing him from reaching the final of a competition after the 20-year-old was forced to withdraw with a hamstring problem.
Pozzi had been the fastest qualifier, running 7.62sec, but failed to reach the starting line in a frustrating development that had echoes of his Olympic nightmare in London. On that occasion, Pozzi had pulled up short in the heats, after being billed as one of the most exciting sprint hurdling talents since Colin Jackson following his fourth-place finish at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul last year.