Chocolate, shopping, football: what motivates a Team GB pole vaulter to train for an Olympics place?
She took Bronze at the World Indoor Championships at Istanbul in March 2012, smashed her British indoor record with a clearance of 4.87m in Lyon earlier this year, and is on track for a Team GB Olympics place.
Aged 20, Holly Bleasdale is one to watch for the London 2012 games. After a hectic few months, the pole vaulter took time out of her week off to talk to Zest about her training routine, aspirations, finding time to wind down, her ongoing battle with chocolate and, of course, awaiting her place in Team GB for London 2012.
What a great weekend you had at the indoor championships, well done and congratulations! How did you feel, winning a bronze medal?
It was definitely an amazing weekend. I was so confident going into the competition because I was in such great shape. It felt so exciting to be up on the podium and winning a medal by representing my country. After it was all over I felt like I wanted to keep at the competition because I felt like I could’ve just carried on getting better, but I’ll just save it up for the next couple of competitions and hopefully the upcoming Olympics.
Obviously you’ve had a very accomplished start to the year considering your bronze medal and beating your British record in Lyon. Are you hopeful for the Olympics?
The start to the season is possibly the most important as from there I can only improve. Improving is a big thing for me. I had a tough time for a couple of seasons with training with larger poles but it’s allowed me to become more confident and take on bigger heights, which is clearly why I managed to come back with a medal and smash my own record. These achievements have without a doubt made me hopeful and confident for London 2012.
Would you feel more pressure competing in front of a home crowd?
I think there would be an element of pressure yes, as there is a lot of expectation on you as a British athlete. The build-up will be the most tense. But having the support from a home crowd will only spur me on. When you hear the crowds cheering your name it’s a big motivation to perform well. Last month I turned up to the Birmingham NIA having set a bit of a standard in France so there was a lot of pressure there paired with being in front of a British crowd but I managed to win and cleared 4.7 metres. Perhaps pressure is a good motivator for me.
So have you qualified yet?
I haven’t qualified yet as such, but I am confident that I will. In order to qualify for the GB pole vault team you have to clear 4.50 metres which I’ve done plenty of times. I have until the 23 or 24 June and then the decisions are made the week after. There are no other women in the UK to compete with to qualify really, so, as I say, I am confident. My training is now gearing toward the finals in the next competitions leading up to the preparation for London 2012.
You mentioned your training there, how is training going and what does a typical training day involve?
Training is going really well. This is currently my week off, which I think I’ve earned. My training sessions tend to vary from session to session. I train twice a day, six times a week, so have Sundays off. A typical training day involves working on my fitness and general conditioning so that I’m in decent form and obviously practising my vaulting which has tended to involve working with longer poles more recently.
Is diet crucial too?
Diet is very important for me. At the moment I have a nutritionist and psychologist. The nutritionist obviously ensures that I am getting the correct nutrients into my body as well as having a good amount of energy to compete and train twice a day. My diet like everyone else’s can always improve, so it will be something I will be focusing upon more alongside my nutritionist in the build-up to the Olympics.
If your diet is so strict, what is your biggest temptation?
Without a doubt – chocolate! I love milk chocolate, but white chocolate is my absolute favourite. It’s the sweetest of them but I do have a sweet tooth. I don’t have a chance to eat much of it with my strict diet but when I do, I enjoy it. I think most of us women struggle with that temptation the most.
You mentioned earlier that you have a psychologist, how does this help with your preparation?
It helps a considerable amount, particularly with positive thinking. We tend to work on motivational things together, so looking at photographs following a win and focusing on how happy I felt. We’re currently working on a montage of photographs and videos at the moment which I think is working very well.
You’ve undertaken a Sports Science Degree recently, how do you manage this alongside training commitments?
I’m fairly relaxed about it to be honest, it’s a four-year distance learning course so it allows me to keep my brain active alongside my body when training. I like the idea that I’m stimulating both my brain and my body. It keeps me motivated too and it helps to have goals in sight, particularly at a competitive level.
What are your future goals and aspirations?
I’d love to go into sports commentary and possibly even work with UKA (the national governing body for athletics). I even like the idea of becoming some type of sports or PE teacher. Giving something back to the society that has had so much faith in me is important. I’d like to impart some of the support and nurturing given to me during my competitive career onto youngsters who wish to go into competing in the pole vaulting event, so even a pole vaulting coach is an option.
Sounds like you have busy times ahead. What do you do to wind down?
With training twice a day so many times a week, in the evenings I usually relax in front of the television. I’ve just moved in with my boyfriend so we tend to enjoy our time together. However, this does mean I only have time to really see my family and friends at weekends, which is really important to me. I usually walk around Cheshire Oaks with them or we go to the Trafford Centre for a spot of shopping. When I do get the chance I try and go and see Manchester United play. I think it’s important to support other competitors.
Holly Bleasdale is a Nike sponsored Athlete and a part of the makeitcount campaign.
Time to sign up. Join her at: www.facebook.com/nikerunninguk #makeitcount
Like us on facebook
Follow us on twitter
Other Hearst Magazines UK sites