Holly Bradshaw was left to reflect on what might have been after missing her medal chance at the World Championships in London.
The British pole vault record holder failed three attempts at 4.75m, meaning she settled for sixth place in a final where, in truth, a medal was at her mercy.
Indeed a repeat of her 4.80m season’s best from the City Games in Manchester earlier this year would have been enough for silver, as Greece’s Ekaterini Stefanidi, the Olympic champion from last year, proved herself a class above to take gold.
Bradshaw was seventh at the last World Championships and sixth and fifth in her two Olympic appearances in London and Rio.
Her podium potential is obvious but she acknowledges her medal collection should be more sizeable than a bronze at the World Indoor Championships five years ago.
“I just feel completely heartbroken to be honest,” admitted a teary Bradshaw.
“I’m in the best physical shape of my life and I simply didn’t take advantage of that.
“Training has been going so well and I felt really confident that I’d be able to do something special in front of this amazing crowd.
“When I look back at this competition and see 4.65m was good enough for bronze I think it will always be a missed opportunity to win a medal on the biggest stage.
“I’m just totally gutted that I didn’t take advantage of it.
“The conditions were really tricky but you need to learn to deal with that.
“It’s hard when the wind is moving around but fair play to the other girls, they did a much better job than me and coped when I didn’t.”
Bradshaw entered the competition with a solid clearance at 4.55m but then failed two attempts at 4.65m before edging over the bar with her final attempt. However, when the height was raised a further ten centimetres, she didn’t really get close.
Bradshaw will now take some time out to reflect but has two major championships to focus on next year, with the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast and European Championships in Berlin.
“I’ll be disappointed for a few days but I’ll pick myself up and go from there,” she added.
“I know I’m doing lots of things right, I just need to put it together when it really matters in the big competitions. I know it will happen, I just have to keep a positive and determined attitude.”
You can help the next generation of young British athletes by getting involved in SportsAid Week this September with London 2012 hero Greg Rutherford MBE. Find out more about how you can support the week of fun and fundraising by visiting www.sportsaid.org.uk/sportsaidweek