12th February 2013
Olympic high jump bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz (coach: Fayyaz Ahmed) and World Indoor pole vault bronze medallist Holly Bleasdale (Dan Pfaff, Scott Simpson) will both look to continue their impressive starts to 2013 as they line up in against a world-class field at the British Athletics Grand Prix in Birmingham on Saturday.
After successfully securing their places for the GB & NI team for next month’s European Indoor Championships on the weekend, the British duo will be up against some of the biggest names from last summer’s Olympic Games.
In one of the most fascinating contests at the NIA, Grabarz will go head-to-head with Olympic gold medallist Ivan Ukhov and World silver medallist Aleksey Dmitrik, with the Newham and Essex Beagle admitting that it will take a big clearance to secure victory.
“I think it will take a height higher than the Europeans to win in Birmingham this weekend. Everyone’s jumping really well at the moment and a first time clearance around the mid-30s will probably win it.
“Birmingham was the reason why I attempted a big height (2.39m) at the European Trialson Sunday, as it would have been nice to get a world lead and put Ukhov and Dmitrik on the back foot. It didn’t happen, but I was close - I just need to control my excitement and I’ll come out flying.”
After winning his first UK title in Sheffield, the joint British outdoor record holder is looking for some major scalps in 2013, with the European Indoor Championships and this summer’s World Championships already in his sights.
“I’m looking to jump at the European Indoors like I did last weekend - qualify clinically for the final and be fighting for that gold medal with whoever is in contention, which is likely to be Dmitrik.
“The aim for this year is to still beat Ukhov in Moscow as he did with me in London. It’s nice to know the work I’m doing is good and I’m looking forward to the summer already now.”
Bleasdale meanwhile, will have to be at her very best as she goes up against Cuba’s Olympic silver medallist Yarisley Silva in the women’s pole vault. The 21 year old has shown she will be a force to be reckoned with in 2013, after four successive vaults over 4.62m including a world-leading 4.77m at the British Athletics European Trials & UK Championships on Saturday – the same day as the Cuban was clearing 4.76m in the Ukraine. With only 1cm separating the two this year, the Bleasdale is confident of another strong performance as she looks ahead to an assault on European success in Sweden.
“It’s going to be tough going up against the likes of Silva, but I’m in good form and I’m confident of performing well. With the European Indoors getting closer I’ll be looking for a strong performance to set me up well for Gothenburg.
“Every time I compete I get stronger. I’m in a really good place - training is going well and everything seems to be slotting into place, so it’s just a case of fine tuning things.”
Bleasdale is also looking forward to another rousing reception from the British crowd and is looking to follow on from her performance in Sheffield with another strong showing at the British Athletics Grand Prix.
“I really enjoyed being part of a good competition at the NIA last year and it was great to win in front of the British crowd. I’m really excited about competing in Birmingham again and hopefully I’ll put on another good show for the fans.”
The British Athletics Grand Prix will be televised live on the BBC on Saturday 16th February.