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Change as good as a holiday for Olympic ace Bleasdale
HOLLY Bleasdale is hoping a change of scenery will bring about a change of luck as she targets major medals in 2013.
The pole vaulter finished a commendable sixth in her debut Olympics in London but knocked off the bar at four metres 55 centimetres – well short of her personal best of 4.71m, which would have been enough for a bronze medal.
Blackburn Harrier Bleasdale admitted that the tricky conditions affected her performance in the summer.
But she believes that a move away from her Lancashire home and down to Cardiff will pay dividends heading into a year where the 21-year-old is targeting medals in the European Indoor Championships and the World Championships outdoors.
“After the Olympics I decided to move on,” said Bleasdale of her switch to Wales, which has also seen her end her association with former coach Julien Raffalli-Ebezant.
“It was a hard decision and a tough move.
“Me and my fiancé had just brought a new house in Leyland where we lived, so to only live in it for two months and then move was hard.
“But I thought it was the right decision to take.
“I have changed coaches to be with Dan Pfaff and am based in Cardiff now.
“The training I have been doing with Dan has been really good.
“I seem to be improving with every session, which is obviously a good thing.
“I am excited to be working with him and seeing what I can achieve.”
The change has taken Bleasdale from her Welsh base out to Arizona in the USA for a six-week training block, with the Chorley athlete flying back into the country on the Christmas Eve.
The warm weather training under the stewardship of American native Pfaff paid dividends for other athletes in his stable, with Greg Rutherford one of those to profit when the long jumper secured a gold medal in London.
“I’ve been out in America for three-and-a-half weeks now and am really enjoying it,” said Bleasdale.
“I am training in a group that includes Greg Rutherford, al-though he is not actually with us in Arizona at the moment but will be joining the group soon.
“It is good to be training with other Olympians and learning off them.
“We’re flying back into the country on Christmas Eve so we are cutting it fine a bit, but I will be at home in Euxton for a few days over Christmas and I can have some time off with my friends and family.”
That break will be the last for Bleasdale as she prepares for the European Indoors in Gothenburg, Sweden in the first weekend in March before the World Championships in Moscow in August.
“My main aims for next year are the European Indoors and the World Championships,” she said.
“Ideally I want to medal in both but what I really want to do is start performing consistently well at the top heights and at the top level rather than being up and down.”
And the bronze medallist from this year’s World Indoor Cham-pionships is taking the advice of two other top pole vaulters in a bid to bring about that consistency.
“I am learning off Steve Lewis and Steve Hooker,” said Bleasdale.
“They have both been involved in the sport for a long time.
“It is good to get different people’s opinions.”
Australian Hooker took gold in the Beijing Olym-pics, while Lewis finished fifth for Team GB in London. Of her own Olympic experience, Bleas-dale says she still looks back fondly on her time in the arena, despite a sense of what might have been.
“I really enjoyed my time in the stadium and going through qualification,” she said.
“The conditions were not perfect and there was a lot of pressure and it was just things I wasn’t used to dealing with.
“I wasn’t used to those conditions and it is just a shame it happened in the biggest competition of my life.
“But I am still really pleased to have finished sixth and there are lots of positives to take from it.
“I am looking to improve and use it as motivation to keep improving.
“It was manic for a couple of weeks afterwards but it was good because it gave you a chance just to let your hair down a little bit and really enjoy the feeling of being in the Olympics.
“I know a lot of people don’t like doing media but I don’t mind it especially after the Olympics because it gives you a chance to tell your story and how it felt to be there.”
* Famous Fan Holly Bleasdale is working with sandwich brand Subway to encourage a healthier, more active lifestyle.
Bleasdale and boxer Anthony Ogogo starred together in the Train Hard, Eat Fresh advertising campaign in May.
The advert saw Anthony and Holly discussing what drives them to achieve their personal best and the steps they take to achieve it.
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