Heartbreak and joy for pole vaulter Holly Bleasdale

Holly Bleasdale in the Olympic stadium tonight

Holly in action in tonight's final

Holly was distraught after missing a third consecutive jump

Holly accepted a marriage proposal from boyfriend Paul Bradshaw last night. Photo: www.blackburnharriers.co.uk

First published in Sport

BLACKBURN Harriers athlete Holly Bleasdale admitted she was heartbroken last night after missing out on a medal in the women’s pole vault final - but was cheered when she accepted a marriage proposal from boyfriend Paul Bradshaw.

The 20-year-old from Chorley had been tipped by some for a medal after making superb progress over the past two years but was reduced to tears after finishing tied sixth.

Nerves appeared to get the better of Bleasdale in her first major final.

She cleared 4.45 metres at the third attempt but was then unsuccessful at 4.55m, the height she had set in qualifying.

The former Parklands High School pupil will learn from the experience of her first Olympic Games but said she was disapp-ointed with her performance, having set a personal best of 4.87m indoors earlier this year.

“The conditions weren’t great, it was a really bad headwind,” Bleasdale said.

“I’m really disappointed with how I did. I felt like I could have jumped around 4.70m but I struggled to cope with the conditions.

“I am trying to look at the positives and to finish in the top eight in my first Olympic final is pretty good, but I am just heartbroken with how it went.

“I am only 20 and I feel like I could have performed well this year.”

Bleasdale also posted a message on her Twitter page, saying: “Devastated! Thanks for the support from everyone and sorry for letting people down! Tried my best just wasn't to be!”

However things looked up for her later in the night as she tweeted: "6th in the Olympics and @bradshaaaw proposes to me :) epic day!!!

Her boyfriend Paul Bradshaw wrote on Twitter: "I have just proposed to @HollyBleasdale and she said yes!!!!! Best day ever!"

Bleasdale is still getting to used to major competitions having missed out on the final of last year’s World Championships in Daegu, unable to record a height in qualifying.

Bleasdale received a rapturous reception from the crowd in the Olympic Stadium at the start of the event. But, after passing at 4.30m, she made a nervy start as she failed at her first attempt at 4.45m.

Her second attempt was closer but she clipped the bar to leave her head in heads, clearly concerned.

But after conversations with her French coach Julien Raffalli-Ebezant she cleared the bar on her third and final attempt and punched the air in celebration.

Her first two attempts at 4.55m were unsuccessful, though, and the worry was clear to see on her face.

Bleasdale clipped the bar on her third attempt to signal her exit from the competition, reducing her to tears, although she still received warm applause from the crowd.

“I am really privileged to have competed in front of a crowd like this,” she said.

“I think I was lacking experience, as when the other girls come to a competition they know what to expect, and I don’t. Hopefully, by Rio, I will be at the top of my game.

“It’s definitely as disappointing as Daegu right now.

“I felt amazing in qualification and I’d breezed over 4.55m by probably 20 centimetres, so to come in and produce that performance in the final is very frustrating.

“I am only 20 and I can’t forget I’ve had a good season. It was really tough but I will learn from this and it’s only my first Games.”

American Jennifer Suhr won gold with 4.75m, while Russian favourite Yelena Isinbayeva could only finish third.

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