British pole vault record-holder gives AW the lowdown on her friendly rivals and a typical day ahead of the IAAF World Championships
Holly Bradshaw says she feels in the shape of her life, with the British record-holder targeting a medal at the IAAF World Championships in what she believes is set to be “the most open” women’s pole vault contest.
Feeling confident after a good block of training, the 27-year-old says it is credit to her coach Scott Simpson for getting the timing and peak right.
“I’m in the best shape of my life so going out there and jumping 4.80m or 4.85m, I can do that quite easily,” says the 2018 European bronze medallist.
“I’ve got all the tools that I need to go there and win a medal, it’s just about me trying to deliver that on the day.”
The world’s top vaulters do not shy away from competing against each other regularly and in Doha Bradshaw will face Olympic, world and European champion Katerina Stefanidi of Greece, USA’s world indoor record-holder and 2012 Olympic champion Jenn Suhr, Canada’s Commonwealth champion Alysha Newman, USA’s world indoor champion Sandi Morris and Pan-American Games silver medallist Katie Nageotte, European indoor champion Anzhelika Sidorova, who will be competing as an authorised neutral athlete, and Cuba’s 2015 world champion Yarisley Silva.
“Everyone is in similar shape this year and it’s super exciting,” Bradshaw adds. “In other years you’ll have thought ‘maybe I could sneak a bronze or silver’ but actually gold, silver and bronze are all up for grabs.
“For me, that’s what excites me the most – feel like I’m in the best shape ever going into a competition that is the most open and that’s really cool.”
Bradshaw was speaking with AW at the British Athletics holding camp in Dubai and she shared some insight into a typical training day.
“The temperature here is a bit of a challenge so we decided to do most of our training in the evening,” she says. “I’m trying to wake up later so I was getting up at 10am and trying to go to bed by 11pm. While I’ve been out here I’ve been sleeping pretty well.
“I’ll go for breakfast and then it’s just killing time. I’m doing some research on a sports psychology topic of post-Olympic blues so I’ve been doing bits of that while I’ve been out here. I’ve also been for coffee a couple of times, obviously, because that’s what I like to do! There are so many good coffee shops here. Basically my day is scheduled around food and meal times!
“I try not to snack and for the three meals of the day, if I’m training in the morning, I’ll have carbs at breakfast and lunch but none at dinner and vice versa if I’m training in the evening. The food here is incredible and I think it’s quite easy to over-indulge and have more volume than you are used to, so for me a little tactic is to get a small plate for salad and then I get another small plate for my meat and carbs. Little things like that you learn over the years.
“I’ll have lunch and maybe have a nap before I get on the bus to go training. Then all of a sudden it’s 10pm and it’s bed time.
“Scott will always programme but I know that we do a three-week lead in,” she adds. “So I know that he starts with the pole vault sessions and that’s five days out and 10 days out and then working around that we will do a really important explosive throwing and lifting session. We throw shot puts over our head and between the legs. I actually got a PB in both of those which tends to happen this time of year. I remember ahead of London 2017 when we were in Paris I threw two PBs.
“I don’t realise it but obviously Scott does it on purpose – we do the feel-good sessions, things that I am good at and am going to PB in, to give me a confidence boost.
“We’ll also do a competition simulation and off the back of that I feel ready to compete. It’s about maintaining that and not doing anything that is going to get you injured.”
The pole vault is known for its camaraderie and Bradshaw gets on well with many of her competitors. So what are they like away from the track? The Brit shares her version of the world championships athlete bios.
“Katie is my best friend out there. She’s really bubbly and friendly. The nicest person you’ll ever meet and will not say a bad word about anyone but is the messiest person! She is first to admit this – I will walk into a room and it’s like an explosion has happened and I’m wading through her stuff.”
“I would describe Sandi as similar – the nicest person, really easy-going, but also in her bio would be ‘crazy animal-loving bubbly person’ because she has snakes and spiders, which freaks me out. She lives in her own little Sandi world and I think it’s great, I wish I could live in there!”
“I swear whenever I see her she is always eating a banana. The other day, I think we were in Brussels, she had four bananas in her hand. So under her bio would be ‘the crazy banana lady’!”
Bradshaw’s own bio
“I think I am known for saying ‘ah bless’ or as the crazy coffee lady!”