Holly Bradshaw vaulting around Europe


1130123000.jpgHolly Bradshaw, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics

With coach Scott Simpson.JPGCoach Scott Simpson with Holly Bradshaw, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics

Holly Bradshaw is the finest women pole vaulter in Great Britain. She is also one of the finest women pole vaulters in the world.

2018 was an amazing year. Holly began 2018 taking silver at the European Indoors pole vault (March 2018), then a 4th in the Commonwealth Games (April 2018) and then, a bronze in the European Athletics Outdoor pole vault (August 2018).

She was 4th in Doha in 2019 at the World Athletics Outdoor Championships.

Holly Bradshaw vaulting around Europe

While Men's pole-vault, with Mondo and Sam going head to head around the world, has been one of the highlights of this strange year, it has been a quiet one for the women. Katerina Stefanidi just competed once, Sandi Morris just four times - all in the USA.

Holly Bradshaw for Stuart.jpgHolly Bradshaw, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics

Holly Bradshaw competed eight times in six countries in a six-week window. Her season started on 1 August, by when she would in a normal year have had 6-8 competitions. She had 4 indoor competitions in February, all over 4.60, little knowing that it would be three months before she would be able to pick up a pole and five months before she would compete again.

bradshaw 2.jpgHolly Bradshaw, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics

"It was difficult at the start", she admitted, "because you are thinking: "is there any point in doing this? Are they going to be any competitions?" But I love training so I just kept the hope that there would be competitions and thought that if there weren't any competitions, I would cross that bridge when I came to it. It's the same mentality that I am going through now with people saying that the Olympics are going to be canceled. Well, so far they are not. So my focus is just to train assuming that the Olympics is going to happen and cross the bridge when I come to it, if anything is canceled".

Bradshaw.jpgHolly Bradshaw, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics

When the HighPac facility in Loughborough closed as part of the Government anti-Covid strategy, she had to be creative: "It was a matter of doing what I could in my garage. I turned my garage into a gym and kept my strength up that way. But I wasn't able to pole-vault and in fact didn't touch a pole the whole time. When I did resume, it was very gradual because of the time I'd spent not vaulting".

The results of her 8 competitions are as follows:

01 AUG 2020

Kuortane Games, Kuortaneen keskusurheilukenttä, Kuortane





11 AUG 2020

Paavo Nurmi Games, Paavo Nurmi Stadium, Turku





16 AUG 2020

Wiesław Maniak Memorial, Miejski Stadion, Szczecin





23 AUG 2020

BAUHAUS-Galan, Olympiastadion, Stockholm





29 AUG 2020

Göteborg Friidrott GP, Slottsskogsvallen, Göteborg





02 SEP 2020

Athletissima - City Event, Place de l'Europe, Lausanne





05 SEP 2020

British Ch., Sportcity Regional Arena, Manchester





08 SEP 2020

59th Ostrava Golden Spike, Mestský Stadion, Ostrava





Source: World Athletics

There is a sad story behind the 4.35 at the British Championships. Her grandad had died the day before. She competed because she felt he would have wanted her to but stopped when victory had been secured, commenting: "I have had a rough 24 hours as my Grandad who was one of my biggest fans and always came to the British Champs, passed away yesterday so I really thought it was appropriate to come and retain my British title for him. I struggled in warm up after not getting much sleep last night trying to rally the family around. It was important for them that I competed and became British Champion. He would be really really happy and proud of me".

Bauhaus 2020.JPG Holly Bradshaw at 2020 Bauhaus, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics

Her assessment of her season was: I couldn't have asked for anything more. It kind of exceeded what I expected. I was able to travel around Europe, compete and have some fun, make some money and had some really good results. My first Diamond League win - five wins and 3 seconds. Going over 4.70 was a massive bonus for me. I didn't expect that. On top of that I learned a lot. There were three competitions when I was jumping into a strong headwind and I managed to learn some things about dealing with that. I also jumped a couple of times off a short approach because of unusual circumstances. So it wasn't just going out and having fun, there was a lot to learn and a lot of positivity to take away from the 8 competitions that I did. With the 4.73 it was more 'whao, I can't believe that happened'. The only one of the disappointed me was Lausanne [4.64]. That was the only one I thought I had underperformed at will. The others all had purposes and loads of positivity came out".

holly b-lausanne.jpgHolly Bradshaw in 2020 Lausanne, photo by Stuart Weir via BBC TV

She particularly enjoyed the city center Athletissma Lausanne: "I absolutely loved it. I love street events. I loved that the Lausanne Diamond League decided to showcase our event. It was brilliantly organized and there was a great crowd there. They had someone with a Segway there and they were trying a different format and doing different things and I really liked that. Maybe not all of them worked but the fact that they were trying different things and using our event to trial them, it was a real privilege to be part of that. It was also a really unusual for us to be competing alongside the men - although we had done it in Stockholm earlier in the year. We do have a lot of mixed competitions indoors like at the La Perche meet and I love it. I love watching the men compete. They bring different things to the table from what the women bring. So I definitely prefer to compete alongside the men".

hollyblausanne.jpgHolly Bradshaw, Lausanne 2020, photo by Stuart Weir via BBC TV

With her last competition in early September, she resumed training in October. "I will have 3 or 4 months getting fitter and stronger and then building the pole-vault up. So the next couple of months are basically putting in the work for the rest of the year. It will be a hard slog but it's going to be different and fun being in Loughborough and getting into a routine. I am going to do an indoor season in 2021 - quite an extensive indoor season, 8-10 meets, finishing with the European indoors. Then just a short gap until the outdoor season. I'm not planning to go away this winter; I'm not going to risk it. I am going to stay in Loughborough where we can control everything. I know that British Athletics are trying to facilitate [some overseas training] but for me it's just too big a risk so we just want to keep things as simple as possible. I don't want to get corona virus but just to stay in my little bubble and train for the Olympics".

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