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BLEASDALE SET TO SOAR IN BIRMINGHAM

2011 Europen Indoor Championships

02 February 2012

New world No. 1 Holly Bleasdale will step up her Olympic pole vault preparations at the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham on Saturday 18 February.

The 20-year-old pole vault prodigy, who cleared 4.87m at a meet in Villeurbanne, France, last month to move to No. 2 on the all-time list behind world indoor record holder Yelena Isinbayeva, will step out in front of a capacity crowd at the NIA in the third and final indoor meet of the Aviva Series 2012.

The last time Bleasdale competed at the NIA she placed third in the national under 20 titles with a clearance of 3.90m. This month she will return to the venue as the world’s leading pole vault athlete and one of Britain’s greatest hopes for London 2012.

Bleasdale has rapidly established herself as one of the most promising vaulters on the planet, setting a new world record for a teenager last July with her leap of 4.70m in Mannheim and taking gold at the European Under-23 Championships in Ostrava the following month.

Following her astonishing performance in France to launch her 2012 campaign, the Preston-born star will aim to build on her rising reputation with a strong performance at the Aviva Grand Prix, an event she considers an important step towards achieving her Olympic dream this summer.

Bleasdale, who will also compete at the Aviva Indoor UK Trials and Championships in Sheffield next weekend, said: “I’ve competed at the NIA before and I’m really excited to return to the venue and improve on my previous performance.

“It’s important that I keep competing throughout the year so I have a few milestones leading up to the Olympic Games. The field at Birmingham should be really strong and obviously it forces me to jump higher if it’s a really competitive field, so hopefully it will be a good meet for me.”

But despite her rapid rise to the top of the world’s pole vault elite, Bleasdale is determined not to allow her recent success to get in the way of her future endeavours.

“I was really pleased with my performance in France, I think I’m still in a little bit of shock but at the same time I’ve been working really hard and been really focused on my training and that’s the exact result I’ve been aiming for,” she said.

“I feel good in myself and I know what I need to do this year so it’s important that I just stick with my own preparations and keep my head down.

“I don’t want to take what happened in France and make every meet about trying to do that again because really I just want to try my best at every meet I attend and hopefully the results will follow.”

In Birmingham Bleasdale will go head-to-head with 2009 World Champion Anna Rogowska, while Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell and 5000m World Champion Mo Farah will headline the action on the track.

The Aviva Grand Prix will be at the NIA in Birmingham on 18 February. Tickets are now sold out; for further event information go to uka.org.uk/aviva-series. The Aviva Grand Prix will be shown live on BBC 1 from 1pm.