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Vaulter Holly Bradshaw back to Tokyo focus after spell on sidelines

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Team GB Pole Vaulter Holly Bradshaw uses a can of food to simulate the weight of a full sized pole as she performs a drill during an isolation training session on her drive on May 17, 2020

Image credit: Getty Images

BySportsbeat
28/07/2020 at 07:43 | Updated 28/07/2020 at 07:43

Pole vault star Holly Bradshaw's lockdown training inspiration came from the unlikeliest of places – baked beans.

The Euxton-born Olympian reached the final at London 2012 and Rio 2016 and was aiming for a medal at Tokyo 2020 before the Games were postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19.

Locked down in Loughborough, a matter of metres from the athletics High Performance Centre, Bradshaw had to get creative alongside coach Scott Simpson.

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And while weights on wheelie bins helped Bradshaw boost her core strength, she found the key to fine-tuning her idiosyncratic event on the shelves of her local supermarket.

"Sprinters can find a patch of grass and go through the motions but it's so hard for me to replicate anything," said the 28-year-old, who will look to add to the 864 Olympic and Paralympic medals won since the introduction of National Lottery funding in 1997, should she qualify for Tokyo 2020.

"Scott and I were bouncing ideas off each on Zoom and tried to find something to simulate the weight of carrying a full pole.

"We landed on strapping a tin of baked beans to the end of a little stick to give it the weight and feel of a pole. It ended up working really well.

"The most surreal moment was taking part in a Zoom quiz where you had to run around your house and find certain items.

"One of them was baked beans and I realised the only tin of baked beans I had was strapped to a pole in my garage!

"I've been able to do some incredible stuff during this time. I've managed to muddle through and also come out of the other side in good nick.

"I've had lots of injuries and needed resilience to come back better from them. That gives me confidence that this time doesn't have to be wasted."

The Lancastrian has never been closer to a big breakthrough having finished fourth at the 2019 World Championships in Doha.

Having spent spells living in the USA and Cardiff, Bradshaw and husband Paul have settled in Charnwood, close to the Loughborough University site where she trains.

The vaulter is one of more than 1,100 athletes funded by the National Lottery on UK Sport's World Class Programme, allowing her to train full-time and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.

Bradshaw is studying for a qualification in sports psychology at Loughborough University and wants to move into the field when her career ends. During lockdown, Bradshaw chose to share her experiences of elite level training techniques with young pole vaulters.

"Over the years, I've developed a huge bank of exercises that you can do relevant to my event," she said.

"Younger vaulters don't know what to do apart from sit-ups and burpees and I had so many requests for help.

"I ran a three-week series of live Zoom calls going through drills you can do at home, stretches and strength exercises.

"I got so many messages from people saying how grateful they were for the advice and that was really rewarding to hear.

"I've been trying to tell everyone to use this time to their advantage, work on your weaknesses and come out better than ever."

No one does more to support our Olympic and Paralympic athletes than National Lottery players, who raise around £30 million each week for good causes. Discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has at #TNLAthletes #TracktoTokyo

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