Holly Bradshaw is ready to attack the heights that saw her compete as one of the best pole vaulters in the world and the British record-holder spoke with Eilish McColgan about her return to form

I was introduced to athletics at school. I seemed to be winning races at our sports day and so I thought I would go down to my local athletics track and give it a go. It took me a good two years before I tried the pole vault. The minute I tried it, I knew it was the event for me. I loved it from the word go.

I changed coaches after the London Olympics in 2012. My current coach is Scott Simpson, who’s great and extremely knowledgeable about the event.

Sally Peake is one of my long-term training partners. Over the years that I’ve been training in Cardiff, we’ve had loads of athletes coming and going and the group has changed a lot. But Sally is a constant. I wouldn’t know what to do without her. She is the perfect training partner.

It was so hard to watch everyone compete for their country while I was injured. It’s such an honour to represent Team GB and returning to competition in Beijing last year was a real buzz. I haven’t really changed my training in order to avoid another serious injury, but I would say I’m training a little smarter.

I love Lego. My obsession with it first began when I was injured. I wanted something fun in order to pass the time and so my husband, Paul, bought me my first set. From that moment onwards, I haven’t been able to go a month without building something. My collection is continually growing and growing. I’ll have to buy a bigger house soon.

Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. It’s been the best bit of advice I’ve received. It’s important as an athlete to focus on yourself as it’s the only thing you can truly control.”

To younger athletes, perhaps struggling with injuries or considering leaving the sport – I would encourage them to stick at it. Every athlete will have an injury at some point; it’s unfortunately part and parcel of our sport but it’s important to never, ever give up.

I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Take all the positives you can and learn from the situation – in the long run, it’ll make you a better athlete. Most athletes are driven to train as hard as they can but they forget to train smart.

Travelling is hard. I usually spend a month in South Africa before Christmas and a further 6-8 weeks in the USA before
commencing my outdoor season. As a big family person, it’s hard. Sport requires a lot of sacrifices; I would say this is probably the biggest of them all.

I hate any cardio training. My least favourite session would have to be our general strength fitness circuits. I’m glad my training does differ throughout the seasons. Winter contains more strength and fitness while the summer work tends to be sharp and fast, working on explosive power.

I’m very organised before major competitions. I like to make sure I have everything prepped and ready hours before I start. I lay my clothes out and I also like to have a few key cues, written down on a piece of paper so I can read over the lines when I’m out in the arena.

When I’m feeling fast in my sprint sessions and when the lifting begins to feel easy and quick, I know I’m ready. This is a huge year and an Olympic medal is my one and only aim.

I would love to stay in the sport. Perhaps as an athletics coach or PE teacher. I’m studying sports and exercise science as a long-distance course, which makes it much easier to combine my training. Saying that, my husband and I have spoken about opening our own coffee shop, back home in Lancashire. You never know.


Saturday – Long rhythm running

Sunday – Rest

Monday – AM: Pole vaulting. PM: Acceleration running

Tuesday – AM: Explosive jumps and throws. PM: Weights

Wednesday – AM: Tempo running. PM: Gymnastics

Thursday – Yoga

Friday – AM: Pole vaulting. PM: Weights

» The above sessions are specific to the individual athlete and may not be suitable for other athletes