Holly Bradshaw hoping to take fine form into Tokyo Olympics
Happy Holly Bradshaw believes embracing a fun-loving attitude and getting the good times back rolling has moulded her into the best shape of her pole vaulting career.
Preston ace Bradshaw, 29, officially booked her place at this summer’s Olympics on Tuesday as she was named in Team GB’s bulging 65-strong athletics squad for the Games.
Bradshaw soared over the bar at 4.90m to break the national record at last weekend’s British Athletics Championships and has remained on a firmly upwards trajectory since finishing fifth at Rio 2016.
The Lancashire star radically adapted her mentality after those Games and says enjoying the heat of competition means she’s in tip-top condition for a crack at Tokyo glory.
Bradshaw, who claimed bronze at the European Indoor Championships in March, said: “I’ve really shifted my mindset and I’m in such a better place mentally and in terms of my mental health.
“I don’t go out there to jump as high as I can or to win on the day – I go out there because I absolutely love it.
“The feeling that I get when I nail the jump compares to nothing else I’ve ever experienced in life. Changing my mindset and going out and enjoying it more has made me perform better.
“I want to go out there, be friends with my competitors, have fun and enjoy myself. It’s come off – and there’s a lot to be said for that.
“I’m trying to really enjoy the moment and I really feel like my career has been building for this.
“I feel like I couldn’t be in better shape – I broke the British record twice already and jumped 4.90m, which is something I wanted to do my whole career.
“I couldn’t be more excited for that reason. It’s been five years since the last Olympics and I was training in my garage in the cold and rain.
“I’m stoked that it’s on, and to have the Olympics on the horizon is really exciting and special.”
Bradshaw is a veteran of the pole vaulting world and accepts this summer’s Games in Tokyo could potentially be her last.
But she’s making no promises about what the future holds, with last weekend’s searing British success at the Manchester Regional Arena proving she may well be peaking at the perfect time.
Bradshaw’s leap under the Saturday night lights propelled her to third on the 2021 world list behind American Katie Nageotte and world champion Anzhelika Sidorova – who have both jumped 4.95m and 4.91m respectively.
Bradshaw finished fourth at the last World Championships in Doha and says she’s loving the current conundrum of how to beat the planet’s best.
“A lot of athletes go out there, be ruthless and want to win but I really don’t feel sport is like that or needs to be like that,” added Bradshaw, whose exploits in Tokyo will be broadcast live on Eurosport and discovery+.
“Go out there and have fun – be competitive, but it doesn’t need to be so tense that it kills you or breaks your mental health.
“I love pole vault – it’s just a massive puzzle and problem to solve. I love jigsaws and things like that – that’s how my mind works.
“I don’t know when I’m going to retire and if this will be my last Olympics. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t.”
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