‘I thought about walking away from the sport’ admits Olympic medal winner Holly Bradshaw
Preston-born Holly Bradshaw admitted she considered quitting the pole vault before clinching bronze to make British Olympic history in Tokyo this week.
The 29-year-old Euxton ace finished behind the USA’s Katie Nageotte and the ROC’s Anzhelika Sidorova on Thursday.
She is the first British athlete to win a pole vault medal at an Olympic Games.
But when she came sixth at the World Championships in London 2017, a combination of personal doubts and social media criticism left her thinking about walking away.
She said: “You have glimpses in your pole vault career where it keeps you going.
“I’ll be on the edge of thinking, ‘What am I doing?’ There were definitely times I thought I might walk away from the sport.
“The injuries were tough and the pressure I put myself under but since 2018 I’ve never thought like that. I’ve absolutely loved it.
“I meet some incredible people and have some incredible relationships.
“It just makes the sport so special.
“I always thought I’d keep going and stay in the sport because at the core it’s what I love doing. I love pole vaulting.
“The start of my career leading up to 2012 I didn’t put a step wrong.
“While that was good in the moment, I didn’t really learn much about myself and the event.
“So then the four years leading to Rio and 2017 were really difficult.
“I had so many injuries, I put so much pressure on myself, I just got myself in a really dark hole where I didn’t want to be and it wasn’t me.
“In 2018 I had to change a lot of my inner values, work on myself and change stuff to enjoy it more.
“Since then I just feel like I love what I’m doing, whether I come sixth, fourth, first in any competition it doesn’t matter.
“It’s about me jumping, enjoying it and enjoying the journey. The last four years I’ve just been building, building, building.”
Bradshaw finished sixth at London 2012 and fifth five years ago in Rio having also come fourth at the World Championships in 2019 before ending her agonising run in Japan.
Only three other competitors along with Bradshaw - Sidorova, Nageotte and Katerina Stefanidi - cleared 4.70m to go into a straight shootout for the podium.
Bradshaw cleared 4.80m at her second attempt, with the bar wobbling, before going over 4.85m first time.
Defending champion Stefanidi’s failure at 4.85m and 4.90m guaranteed Bradshaw a medal but she could not clear the new height and secured bronze.
Her medal was just Team GB’s second in athletics after Keely Hodgkinson’s 800m silver on Tuesday.