Holly Bradshaw set a new British record at the pole vault. Holly’s 4.90m puts her in the top 4 vaulters in the world.
Stuart Weir wrote this piece about one of his favorite athletes, and how she continues to build her stats as one of the finest British vaulters.
Holly Bradshaw- new British record
Holly Bradshaw’s 4.90 in the women’s Pole Vault was the stand-out performance of day 2 at the Muller British Championships in Manchester. It was challenging competition for her to manage. With the bar starting at 3.65, Bradshaw waiting while her 8 opponents took 44 vaults. When she entered the competition at 4.55 there was only Molly Caudery still going.
It didn’t seem like a record-breaking day when Holly failed with her first attempt at 4.55. She cleared it at the second attempt, skipped 4.63, cleared 4.70 again at the second attempt before clearing 4.83 and 4.90 with the first attempt.
In 2012 Holly cleared 4.87 indoors but her best performance in the next six years was 4.81. This year she did a 4.85 indoors.
She said, following her new British record: “I don’t think it has hit me yet. I have dreamt about jumping 4.90 since 2012. It’s not so much a bugbear of mine but since jumping 4.87 I have known for years that it is in me and finally I have been healthy, training well and it has all come together for me.
“The competition that matters is the Olympic final and all the other competitions are prepared for that. Today I was super, super nervous but also relaxed and I was able to execute well with clear bars at 83 and 90. It is me against the bar and I am calm about that and I just think about my simple cues. I know it will take anything between 4.80 and 4.95 to take a medal in Tokyo and I know I can be in the mix with six or seven others. I just need to stay healthy”.
Last week I spoke to Holly and one of the topics she talked about was the process of improving. She said: “When I broke onto the scene in 2012, 2013, I was thinking that there’s no doubt that in my career I’m capable of jumping 5 m but then because I lost my way due to the injuries, I began to doubt myself and whether 5m was possible. I started thinking I just want to get the PB because I don’t know if 5m is too high for me. There is a limit to my capabilities and I honestly thought it was 5m. I’m not saying I can jump 5m but I think it’s back on the cards. This year I want to break 4.90 and I’ve already jumped three of my top 10 heights this year and that’s a great step but now I just take a step at a time – 4.88, then 4.90.
“For a lot of years I would be jumping 4.70, 4.40, 4.50, 4.70 and you can’t win a medal like that but now I’ve got the consistency that should allow me to win a medal. We’re not all like Mondo who just seems to be able to jump 6m in the rain anytime he wants!”
She then talked about some of the technical changes she was making, going from a 4.45 pole to 4.60s. “I tried 16 steps and 460 poles. I was jumping less than I was from 12 steps. So 14 steps on the longer polls now is working perfectly for me. And if I can do what I’m doing from 14 steps on the 460 poles then with 16 steps 5m is definitely possible. But if I can do it, is another question. But for this year it’s 14 steps on the 460 poles. And the consistency is there and even in terrible conditions I can jump a 4.70. I need the confidence to do that”.
With regard to Tokyo, her assessment is very honest: “I think the women’s pole vault is incredibly open with five or six of us who could win the medals and I believe that I am one of the six. And it’s not like the men where you could say gold has gone but perhaps you could sneak the bronze. I think it really open and whoever can deliver a 4.80 to 4.95 on the day is gonna get themselves a medal”. And why should that not be Holly?
She also talked about how she assessed herself as she went into the delayed 2020 Olympics compared to the Holly who went to Rio: “When I was going into 2016 I’d had a lot of injuries and surgery. There were months when I was missing training. Because of the injuries I felt I was always on the back foot, not having had the training under my belt. But in 2017-2020 I’ve just built momentum. I’ve had no injuries that kept me out for more than a couple of days. So each week out been able to get faster, stronger and do more vaulting. Doing that every week has made a massive difference. The speed data, strength data – Scott [Simpson] is a very meticulous coach who loves spreadsheets. We have the data and we know that I’m in a much better place. I think it’s just a day on day, month on month, year on year consistency of training”
I suggested that her performance had been pretty consistent too: “In the last three years I don’t think I jumped less than 4.60 unless I was on a short approach, in bad conditions. In 2018 all my performances were over 4.60, some over 4.70 and one or two 4.80. In 2019 it was mostly over 4.70 and a few over 4.80. Then 2020 was a bit messy. This year I’ve been in the 4.70s and sometimes over 4.80 and we’re not fully into the season yet. So yes, definitely consistency of performance”.
Holly Bradshaw looks to be in a great position and at just the right time.
This is the British Athletics clip of the 4.90
— British Athletics (@BritAthletics) June 26, 2021