Holly Bleasdale the British pole vault champion for the last two years, is currently nursing Achilles and back injuries and will miss the Sainsbury’s British Championships in Birmingham this weekend. But Bleasdale will be watching from the stands at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium.
How hard is it going to be sitting in the stands, watching but unable to compete this weekend?
I think I’ve matured a lot. In the past, I wouldn’t have wanted to go knowing I couldn’t compete but it’s a good chance to top up my tan and cheer on my friends. Obviously I’m gutted as it would have been great to win the title three times in a row.
What is the injury prognosis then — what exactly’s the problem?
It’s two problems really, which I came back with from training in the States. One is tendinopathy in my Achilles, the other is stress related in my lower back. Both of them are getting so much better and I’ve been pain free for four or five days now. I’ve just run for the first time in a while and that felt okay. I’m looking to start running quicker from Monday onwards now. In some ways, this is all a caution but I know people who’ve had some very serious Achilles problems. I’m 21 and I don’t want that to be the case. It’s best to get this sorted out now with the rest of my career ahead of me.
What does the treatment entail?
Well, I was treated at Loughborough originally and have just spent the last two weeks at Bisham Abbey. It’s been an 8.30am start there with two physio sessions, a massage and strength and conditioning session. That finishes off about 4pm. It seems to be working and I certainly feel a lot stronger. I’m not really able to run or pole vault but I’m in the best shape ever.
Do you think you’ll be able to get fit and competitive in time for the World Championships?
I did a vaulting session before the European Team Championships in Gateshead and hadn’t done one for a month and that went really well. I feel I can get back to 4.70metre heights quickly. I see the point that it helps to have competition to get into your rhythm but I’m more experienced now and feel I can get into vaulting quite quickly after this sort of time out. I get the sense I’ll be there in Moscow. It’s still a month away. The aim is just to get there competing pain free.
You’ve recently split from your coach Dan Pfaff. How difficult was it to reach that decision?
It was always a big risk going out to train with him in America as I’m very much a home girl, who likes a close-knit training group. I didn’t really have that as Dan trains so many athletes and everyone’s doing their own training programme. I found it really, really tough out there. So I sent an email to Dan, saying basically you know my feelings of being in America. So I’m now working in Cardiff with Scott Simpson, who I was working with alongside Dan. He has an amazing eye and he’ll still liaise with Scott over videotapes. For example, he’ll spot my knee out of place and tell me I have to correct that to avoid injury.
There’s obviously some free time at the moment amid injuries and rehab. What do you get up to?
I love Lego. It’s a bit sad as most of the boxes say stuff like ‘Age 7-12’ on them! My fiance, Paul, got me a wedding kit for our anniversary with 2,000 pieces. I think it was supposed to take a month but I did it in two days. I’ve suggested we need a Lego room in our house but he’s having none of it. Lego kindly sent me a speedboat one as well, which I’m working on at the moment. I think I love solving stuff — it goes back to doing one of those monster jigsaws every Christmas with my mum and sister.