Last week, Holly Bleasdale visited Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School in Wigan through her role for our Athletes 4 Schools scheme. She received a very warm welcome on entering the school assembly to the whole school chanting her name and begun by telling her story and talking about her experiences, bringing through lots of positive messages. Holly also ran 2 activity workshops which were based on pole vaulting techniques and many of them showed interest in getting involved in pole vaulting sessions outside of school. This was all captured by BBC Northwest News who came along to film the visit.
We caught up with Holly to see how it went and to talk about her amazing 4.87m vault which has put her into 4th position on the all time pole vaulting rankings.
So Holly, how did your visit go today?
I thought it went really well, I was a bit nervous because there was some press coming but the children were so engaged and my sessions were really fun. All the children really took to trying the pole vault and the effort the whole school put in definitely made it the best visit I have done so far.
What was your favourite part of the visit?
I would say the practical sessions are my favourite. The kids are always a bit scared but also really intrigued because they have never tried it before and there's a bit of risk to it but they always embrace it. Many of them asked me where they could go along to sessions, which is an issue because I think the nearest place is Sport City in Manchester where I train. It would be great to see more local clubs offering pole vaulting sessions.
This is your 4th visit for the Foundation, how are you feeling towards your role now?
I'm getting more and more confident each time. This time I was especially confident, especially in the assembly as normally I find this a bit nerve racking but I stood up there and took it in my stride and thrived on the atmosphere too. It always helps when the school is really up for it.
What sort of messages are important for you to promote?
Short term goals are really important. I set myself regular short terms goals. Major competitions are so far off so setting my own aims gives me confidence and motivation to keep going. But there are a number of areas I focus on to try and inspire young people. There was one visit I talked about diet and took in food to taste.
How does it feel to be the current world's number one?
It's really not sunk in that I'm number one in the world. When people mention it to me I still kind of think oh gosh yeah I am actually. But yeah, it's really good and I'm just excited to get into a proper season with a full run up and start jumping even higher.
How did you feel when you hit the mat knowing what you had achieved?
I laid there for a couple of seconds which I think was a mixture of mental and physical exhaustion but also I was so surprised and astonished at how high I had actually jumped. I was so happy but didn't celebrate that much because I was in such disbelief!
What do you think has made the difference?
This year I've upped my training so much more. I've been lifting heavier and I've been working so much more on my technique. I think a big thing is that I've got much stronger from doing weights and conditioning that I've been able to take on bigger poles. So it's a combination of this and changing my technique which is working really well for me.
Barrie came over to watch you use your new longer poles for the first time last week... how did it go?
I was a bit nervous because when I made the change from 4.30m to 4.34m it took me a couple of months to get used to it, but the first session with the 4.60m poles clicked straight away I was vaulting really well which is positive.
Look out for Holly who is competing at the Aviva Indoor Trials and Championships in Sheffield this Sunday. Coverage will be shown on Channel 4 from 2pm onwards.