HOLLY Bleasdale is counting down the days to the Olympics after sealing her place in the London Games.
The Chorley pole vaulter went back to her roots yesterday when she visited Parklands High School.
It was only four years ago that she was a pupil there, and Bleasdale staged a pole vault masterclass for the youngsters.
Her visit came just a few days after she broke the British outdoor pole vault record, jumping 4.71 metres at the Aviva Olympic trials in Birmingham.
That qualified her for London where she is a strong candidate for a medal finish.
Bleasdale told the Evening Post: “The last few days have been amazing.
“I went to the trials looking to jump well and finish in the top two to get automatic selection.
“In the end I finished first, exceeded what I aimed to jump and got the British record.
“I can’t be much happier with that.
“I’m so confident and positive after jumping 4.71 and the Olympics being so close is so exciting.
“There are three more competitions before we go into camp in Portugal.
“Then it’s the Olympics and I can’t wait.
“I feel deep down inside that it’s going to be a good year. I’m not going to set too many targets for London.
“I’d like to make the top six which would make me happy, and of course I really want to win a medal.
“But even I came away without one, I wouldn’t be so disappointed.
“I’m still quite young and have a couple more Olympics ahead of me.
“Saying that, to get a medal in my own country would be fantastic.”
Bleasdale has to strike a balance between now and the start of the Games when it comes her preparation and training.
And she envisages the time flying between now and London.
The 20-year-old said: “The schedule is jam-packed – I’m off to France next week for an event, then there’s another competition after that.
“On July 20 it’s the Monaco Diamond League, then we fly to Portugal three days later.
“Now that I’ve qualified I don’t want to go too hard because that is when you can get injured.
“But I don’t want to slacken off either and lose my form.”
Bleasdale traces her athletics roots back to her time as a Parklands pupil, and was delighted to be back there.
She said: “I loved my time at school – they were the best five years of my life – and feel that is where it all began for me.
“I did the sprint hurdles there and the teachers inspired me to do sport and athletics.”
- Holly Bleasdale is an ambassador for Alfa Romeo – official car supplier to UK Athletics (UKA). Visit: www.alfaromeo.co.uk.