SHE may have already come a long way in a short space of time but you won’t find Holly Bleasdale getting carried away by her new found fame as he sets her sights on the very top.
The Chorley pole vaulter has burst onto the scene over the past 12 months to emerge as a genuine medal contender at London 2012 – even becoming the poster girl for sandwich company Subway.
The 20-year-old Blackburn Harrier must have felt like she was literally flying at times having followed up a stunning outdoor season last time around, with just as good an indoor campaign.
Last season she broke the British record for fun en route to European under 23 gold, before a campaign under the roof that saw her achieve a personal best of 4.87m – third on the all-time list – and secure a bronze medal.
The new outdoor season has been less spectacular, ahead of next weekend’s Olympic trials in Birmingham, as she looks to hit peak form just in time for the big extravaganza next month.
She isn’t about to let herself to start believing the growing hype about her chances in London though as she focuses on making sure she one day meets her ambitions.
“I don’t want to set any heights or targets because I think that is putting pressure on myself,” she said. “I just want to go there and jump as high as I can given the conditions and I’m hoping that will be bring me a medal.
“I’m not saying I am going for a medal though as I just want to go out there and perform the best I can.
“To go there, make the final and the top six would be really good for me. I think I have three more Olympics after this, so loads more time.”
While Bleasdale would be happy with any colour of medal, anything other than a gold for Russian rival Yelena Isinbayeva would be a major shock.
World record holder Isinbayeva is already a double gold medallist and has dominated the sport for almost a decade – something Bleasdale one day aspires to.
“She has been and still is a big inspiration,” said Bleasdale. “Since I have started she has been my icon, my role model. She is who I have wanted to be like and now I am competing against her.
“I still feel as though she is an inspiration. She says things in press conferences that I read and hear and think ‘that is very true’.
“She said I should not underestimate how important experience is and she is right. When you think of how much competition experience she has had and experience I have had, she has had 95 per cent and I have had one per cent.
“It is just about going to championships and learning from the people around me. Every championship I go to I learn something new, every training session I enter I learn something new and I will keep doing that until in four or five years time I am going to be where Isinbayeva is and hopefully I will be beating her then.
“I am in the right place. She has dominated for the past five or six years and I have got hopefully another 10 to 12 years in my career.
“So in four years, if I can be where I want to be then hopefully I can dominate for seven years after that. I definitely feel that within my potential I can vault 5m 20 and maybe four of five years times that is where I will be.
“I just need to look at realistic aims and not rush things because I am still young and Isinbayeva said I need to take care of myself between the age of 20 and 24 because that is when the tough time is. When she was my age she was jumping 4m60 so that stands me in good stead.”
While pole vaulting is all about pace, strength and technique, Bleasdale admits it is just as important to be mentally ready.
She said: “Being right mentally is very important and that is why I have been working with the psycologist. For me any little thing that goes wrong can blow your psychology.
“So it is about remaining composed in training and compe-tition and remaining focused.
“That is what we have been working on in training.”
By Andy Cryer,