Holly Bleasdale smashes own British pole vault record

Pole vaulter Holly Bleasdale smashed her own British indoor record and moved to second on the all-time world list with a clearance of 4.87m in Lyon.

The 20-year-old improved her record by one centimetre in going over at 4.72m, and managed 4.80m at the first attempt.

She then cleared 4.87m at the third attempt  to win the event and assume the lead in the world rankings.

Only world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia has gone higher, with a clearance of 5m.

In attempting to beat that record, Bleasdale failed to clear 5.01m, but was nonetheless satisfied with what she achieved in France.

Analysis

I cannot emphasise enough how significant it is that Holly Bleasdale has suddenly become the second-highest indoor pole vaulter after the legendary Yelena Isinbayeva, who opened her season with 4.70m in Volgograd on Saturday. It is the best performance by a British woman jumper since Ashia Hansen broke the world indoor triple jump record in 1998. Her height of 4.87m would have won all but one of the women's world titles in history, and is a height that only 26 British men achieved last year. It is clear that Bleasdale is not only a candidate for a world indoor title in March in Istanbul, but also a real prospect for an Olympic medal

"I just lay still on the bed [mat] in astonishment. The crowd was absolutely electric and this was an amazing boost," she said.

"Everyone was on their feet shouting, and when I attempted 5.01m the atmosphere was just out of this world. I've never experienced it like that before."

She has vowed to be more focused should she ever have the opportunity to try for the world record in the future.

"I ran through twice and had one good attempt," she said.

"I was lucky to have the chance to attempt a world record but next time I will be more mentally prepared."

Bleasdale, who only took up the event four years ago after spells in gymnastics, hurdles and heptathlon, had an impressive 2011 season, breaking the British record twice and winning the European Under-23 title in July.

The one blip was failing to register a height in qualifying at last year's World Championships in Daegu.

At the meeting in France, Bleasdale beat former British record holder Kate Dennison into second, with fellow Brit Sally Peake third.

Meanwhile, in Germany, British high jumper Robbie Grabarz set a lifetime best of 2.34m.

He beat world silver medallist Aleksey Dmitrik into second to climb to number three in the UK all-time list behind Steve Smith and Dalton Grant.

Top five women's indoor pole vaulters

  • Elena Isinbaeva (Russia) - 5.01m (2009)
  • Holly Bleasdale (GB) - 4.87m (2012)
  • Jennifer Suhr (USA) - 4.86m (2011)
  • Svetlana Feofanova (Russia) - 4.85m (2004)
  • Anna Rogowska (Poland) - 4.85m (2011)

Grabarz took the lead in the world rankings after improving 5cm on his personal best of 2.29m - set only two weeks ago - in Wuppertal.

"It felt great to jump that height," he said. "Before the season started I knew heights like this and above were going to be needed to be competitive against the world's best."

UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee feels that British athletes will continue to improve in the run-up to the Olympics.

"It is a promising start to the season," he said. "If Holly and Robbie manage to repeat this in the Olympic arena we will all be partying afterwards.

"I recently witnessed outstanding practice in South Africa and Kenya at our warm-weather training camps and, based on that, I expect more athletes to make a strong mark in the months to come."

The World Indoor Championships take place in Istanbul, Turkey from 9-11 March.