After struggling with injury over the past two seasons, Holly Bradshaw made a spectacular return to British dominance this summer, which took her all the way to the women’s Pole Vault final at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing.
Reflecting on the start of the year and her mindset for 2015, the 23-year-old Briton stated: “It was a bit of a tricky year for me. I’ve struggled with injuries for a good few years, but at the end of last year I got my injury under wraps. I ended up having back surgery, which healed the bone which I had been dealing with for a while.
“I was really excited for 2015. I knew I wasn’t going to do an indoor season, but Beijing was definitely on the cards.
“I hit speed bumps along the way as I would get back running, then I would have another injury, then get back running again and have another injury, so to be at the World Championships was fabulous and my 2015 season has finished on a massive high.”
Injury is one of many challenges athletes will face throughout their career and Bradshaw spoke of how she was able to keep herself motivated during that time: “It was really tough and I’m sure that my family and friends will tell you that I definitely had my lows. I absolutely love Pole Vaulting, and I kept that memory in the back of my mind of how awesome it felt to be on the runway doing what I love, and competing against the best girls in the world.
“I kept that feeling with me every single day and it kept me going and got me through the rehab. I kept positive as I knew I would get there in the end.
“I’m excited of what the future holds because this year hasn’t been the best preparation, and I’ve stumbled together a pretty good season so for next year I’m really excited.”
Bradshaw spoke of the importance of sports psychology as part of her training regiment: “It’s super important. When I got my back injury and when I was coming back from that, I started seeing a sports psychologist (Sarah Cecil) every couple of weeks, and now I see her once every month. She’s the best sports psychologist I’ve ever seen in my life, and seems to be able to get stuff out of me without actually boring me with normal sports psychology stuff. We just have a chat and we work things out and she has played a massive part in my return to fitness.”
To a lot of athletes sports psychology is very underrated and Bradshaw offered the following advice to someone who may be thinking about it: “I was very much of that opinion before I met Sarah Cecil. I used to think I don’t need sports psychology as I’m probably one of the most mentally tough girls out there, but there are so many things you can learn from it, like methods on how to stay confident, trusting in yourself and trusting in the people around you.
“There are so many different doors that sports psychology opens, and you don’t really know until you actually do it so it’s about finding the right person that works for you, and the right person that works with you.”
With her 2015 return to competition, Bradshaw captured yet another British title and booked her ticket to Beijing where she delivered a 7th place performance of 4.70m for GB in the women’s Pole Vault final. She spoke of her experience at the championships and what she will take going forward: “Apart from London 2012 which was special for a different reason, it was the best championships I’ve ever been to.
“The holding-camp in Japan was outstanding. British Athletics did a great job with the food and the training facilities. They had a shopping mall attached to the hotel so you could get out and have a browse which was great so they did an amazing job with that which was great and it really did set me up for a good Championship.
“China was breath-taking, walking up to the stadium, the Bird’s Nest, was fabulous. I had never seen anything like it and it really blew me away and I just took it from there. I enjoyed every single minute, I didn’t have any pressure on my shoulders and it resulted in a really good performance for me, and I was chuffed to bits and super happy with how it went.”
With both the IAAF World Indoors and the Rio Olympics on the cards next season, Bradshaw spoke of her plans for 2016: “It will be a really exciting year for me. Hopefully, I’m not going to have any injuries so I’m going to put a good block of training in, get stronger, get faster and work on technique.
“I’m really looking forward to both, the World Indoors and the Olympics. I have to jump 4.71m to qualify for the indoors, and I’m only 1cm off it, but hopefully for the indoors that shouldn’t be an issue.
“Rio is an amazing thing to have on our calendar and to be able to represent your country is fabulous, and I’m super excited for what next year could bring and Rio is going to be great. I think they are going to put on a great show.”
Facts about Holly Bradshaw
Interview by Marilyn Okoro
Feature & Photography by TrackField97.com