The British pole vault record-holder enjoys the challenge of competing against the world record-holder
British pole vault record-holder Holly Bradshaw admitted she would be disappointed to miss out on the chance of competing against world record-holder and double Olympic champion Yelena Isinbayeva in Rio if Russia’s ban is not lifted in time.
The Russian athletics federation was barred from international competition in November after a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report revealed a state-sponsored doping programme being operated in the country under the supervision of the country’s secret service.
As it stands Isinbayeva, who will be 34 at the time of the Olympics, will miss out on the opportunity to compete at her fourth Olympics as a result of the ban, having won gold in Athens and Beijing, and bronze in London four years ago.
Isinbayeva has never failed a drugs test and is not implicated in the Russian doping abuses detailed by WADA.
“I guess it is disappointing. I like competing against her. I like having the challenge of trying to beat her because she’s such an amazing athlete,” said Bradshaw, who finished sixth at London 2012.
“She was a big role model when I was younger whereas now I see her as more of a competitor.
“It would be a shame for her not to be included in it. It’s a shame clean Russian athletes are definitely being penalised for other people’s mistakes but it’s become a bit of a joke really with how bad the doping is in athletics and something needed to happen to sort that out.”
The Cardiff-based vaulter, whose PB is 4.87m set four years ago, has taken the decision to skip the indoor season to focus on getting in shape for the summer.
The World Championships in Beijing, where Bradshaw finished seventh, was the first major outdoor competition the 24-year-old had competed in since the 2012 Olympics after a long battle with a chronic back problem ruled her out of the previous two summers.
Despite being fitter than she has ever felt, the British record-holder is forcing herself to watch as many of her competitors vault themselves into good early-season form; none more so than reigning Olympic champion Jenn Suhr from the US who recently set an indoor world record of 5.03m, becoming just the second person behind Isinbayeva to clear 5m.
Seeing Suhr’s achievement, Bradshaw said: “I’m not going to lie, it does stab me in the heart a bit that someone is jumping really well especially when I can’t go out there and compete to show how good a shape I’m in right now. It definitely adds fuel to the fire.”
» Holly Bradshaw is supported by the Sky Academy Sports Scholarship scheme, helping young athletes fulfil their potential and achieve their goals for Rio 2016: skysports.com/scholarships