The 30-year-old, who won pole vault bronze at last year’s Olympics, snapped her pole in her final practice jump on Friday in Eugene and was forced to retire injured.
It broke as she planted it in the box and Bradshaw landed awkwardly on the back of her neck while also hurting her arm, back and hamstring.
Bradshaw quit with this summer’s Commonwealth Games and European Championships in mind as her hopes of a maiden World Championships medal ended on day one.
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She said: “I was absolutely gutted, I was heartbroken, I was crying in the box, sobbing. It was a massive, massive shock. I’ve felt really good for the three weeks coming into this.
“It’s the first time it’s ever happened in my career, so it’s a great time for it to happen. I hope it never happens again.
“It’s just really, really, really unfortunate timing but I’ve come back from worse. I’ve still got the Commies and the Euros. I’ve had a preliminary medical exam and it’s nothing too serious.
“I’m going to get more checks tomorrow and hope it’s nothing bad and I come back for Commies and Euros. It feels out of my control. This year has been a challenge and it’s just another thing for me to negotiate past.
“There was no way I could know that was going to happen. It’s such a freak accident. It’s just one of those things that absolutely sucks
“It’s been a rocky season and a lot of things haven’t gone my way but the last three weeks have been great. I thought I could have done 4.50/60 today clean in qualification and then challenge for medals in the final.
“I am that point in my career now where if I am not battling for medals, I can’t put myself in that position and I am not going to take any risks. That is the decision I made.”
Coach Scott Simpson added: “I was in a little bit of shock, it took me by surprise, you never expect a pole to blow up like that. My immediate reaction was: ‘Is Holly OK?’
“I was worried she had done something really, really bad and I am just grateful she is not more seriously hurt.”