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Molly Caudery: I thrive when Im the underdog

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Published in Athletics
Thursday, 23 November 2023 05:23
An exclusive interview with British pole-vaulter Molly Caudery on her spectacular 2023 season

Molly Caudery was one of the unsung heroes at the World Championships in Budapest. The British pole vaulter not only produced the performance of her life when clearing a PB of 4.75m to finish equal fifth in the final, amazingly it came after she spent most of last winter on crutches.

That impediment, and a period of months when the 23-year-old could not walk, was due to her having two surgeries on her ankle.

On the first one we had to go through my Achilles and reattach it, so I was out for a long time, she explains. I didnt walk from October until February and then I started to walk and run again. But then I felt similar pain and had another surgery in March.

After that I came into the season with absolutely no expectations and I didnt think Id get to the World Championships, so to actually do what I did after the training that I had running into it was amazing.

Molly Caudery (Getty)

Budapest was not the only success story of Cauderys summer, however. That finish of equal fifth sharing the position with Angelica Moser of Switzerland was only made possible by her having jumped 4.71m to win the British title in July, while the Cornwall AC athlete ended her season with victories at events in Germany and Italy.

Ive had a different mentality this year towards everything, she explains. And I think thats really changed how Ive jumped. Even when I was injured, I just tried to visualise my job every single day and of course I also took the chance to work more on my upper body strength.

Caudery is used to overcoming adversity. In the build-up to the 2022 season she almost lost a finger during a freak accident in the gym and had surgery on her hand, yet returned to win silver at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

She grew up in Cornwall and followed in the footsteps of her parents, Stuart and Barbara, when it came to pole vaulting. My mum and dad are my biggest fans, says Caudery. They come with me to all my competitions.

Molly Caudery (Getty)

Her dad coached her until she was 18 when she finished fifth in the 2018 Commonwealth Games as the youngest member of the England team. Soon after she took an athletics scholarship to Miami.

Her vaulting didnt flourish there, though. Miami was a dream and it was great, she says. I had the best time. But I just think there were too many distractions for me to focus properly on my athletics.

Caudery now trains back in the UK and inspiration and support isnt far away from British record-holder Holly Bradshaw.

Holly [Bradshaw] has been super-supportive, says Caudery. How seriously she takes it all is really interesting and inspiring.

Its really easy to get to and from track and its great just training at the HiPac with Scott and Holly. Its just a great team around me.

Such a set-up helped her excel in Budapest. I was constantly excited all day and I didnt sleep really for the two nights after the qualification, because I was thinking about the final so much, she says. I actually went in feeling quite tired. But once youre out there on the world stage with the lights coming down on the stadium, you wake up straight away.

Molly Caudery (Mark Shearman)

Cauderys competition was on the same night as the mens 1500m, where Josh Kerr struck gold for Britain. It was the best night of my life, she adds. I had so much fun out there. And I was competing with the worlds best who I was just watching a couple of years ago. It was so good.

The crowds, and how much they engaged with the action, were a real feature of this years World Championships and it is the backing from the stands which pops most readily to mind when Caudery recalls her PB jump.

It was my third attempt and I had the whole crowd behind me, she says. My run, take-off, everything was just perfect and it was a completely clean clearance. Theres definitely more to come in the future, which is really exciting.

Now Caudery goes into Olympic year hoping to make the podium. I thrive when Im the underdog and I was the underdog in the competition [in Budapest], she adds. And I thrive when I have fun. I just went into it enjoying myself and I did that.

Imagine what might be possible now, should the coming winters training be free from any injury troubles?

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