Fresh from reaching the final at her first Olympic Games, Holly Bleasdale will take on newly-crowned Olympic Champion Jenn Suhr of the USA at the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix – the last pre-final meeting of the Samsung Diamond League – at Alexander Stadium on Sunday 26 August.
Bleasdale cleared 4.45m to finish tied for sixth place and record the best ever performance at an Olympic Games by a female British pole vaulter. Although the British record holder was somewhat disappointed not to have vaulted higher, she was encouraged by the support of the capacity crowd in London.
“I’ve had so much support and now that I’ve experienced the excitement of the Olympics in London I’m really looking forward to the great atmosphere of the Alexander Stadium for the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix.”
Still only 20 years old, Bleasdale intends to take some of the lessons learned from her first Olympic Games forward as she continues to stake her claim as one of the world’s best.
“To finish sixth place in my first Olympic final is pretty good. I think due to the lack of experience I have at major championships it wasn’t the best set of conditions to contend with but I will learn from that and next time I will able to pick my game up. The crowd however, were absolutely amazing – they lifted me so much.”
Suhr, who already held a silver medal from Beijing, cleared 4.75m in the Olympic Stadium to clinch victory ahead of Yarisley Silva of Cuba. The American, who is second to Yelena Isinbayeva on the pole vault all-time list, set a personal best the last time she competed at the Birmingham Alexander Stadium so is understandably looking forward to a return to the West Midlands.
“I’m excited about Birmingham. The fans in the UK are amazing and they showed that at the Olympics. The Alexander Stadium is great for us pole vaulters as well because the runway is so close to the crowd, so it feels like you’re on stage and you can really feel the energy from everyone.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be able to call myself Olympic Champion. After finishing second in Beijing four years ago I really wanted to take gold in London and so I’m glad I’ve been able to do it. I’ve had a great time in the UK and now I’ll look to celebrate with another good performance at the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix.”
Both Bleasdale and Suhr will face stiff competition in Birmingham from the likes of Brazil’s Fabiana Murer and Germany’s Martina Strutz, who were first and second at last year’s World Championships in Daegu. Another German, Silke Spiegelburg, who won the Pole Vault at the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix last year and finished fourth place at the London 2012 Olympics, will also be competing.
Bleasdale has enjoyed a successful rise to prominence in 2012 that included a bronze medal at the World Indoor Championships in March, and she is keen to repeat the form that saw her set a new British record at the Aviva 2012 Trials in June at the Alexander Stadium.
“I’ve had such a good year starting from the indoors and stretching all the way to the Olympics. Hopefully I can keep it going for a few weeks longer and produce another big performance in Birmingham.”
Back the team and watch the world’s best athletes in action at the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium on 26 August. Live coverage on BBC1 from 1.30-5pm.
Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix