HOLLY Bleasdale admits it is strange to be preparing for the Olympics having known little of her chosen event four years ago.
The 20-year-old Crewe student 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.
Now along with GB team-mate Kate Dennison, from Alsager, she is getting ready for Saturday’s qualifying session, from 10.20am.
Holly, who attends MMU Crewe, 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.”
Holly 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.
Double Olympic champion Isinbayeva, who boasts a world record of 5.06m, is the clear favourite but Holly’s stats compare favourably to those of the 30-year-old Russian at her age.
She 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 the future.
Holly, who originally hails from Chorley, added: “I have had a rapid rise and established myself. 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.
“It seems to be going the right way so hopefully in the next couple of years I will be jumping more consistently and higher.
“Because I am still quite young I want to enjoy it. I just want to go to the village, soak it all up and learn from it, good and bad.”
If qualification goes well Holly and Kate will contest the pole vault final on Monday from 7pm.
by Peter Morse