Holly Bleasdale breaks own British pole vault record

Holly Bleasdale competes for Blackburn Harriers

Holly Bleasdale continued her rapid rise to prominence by breaking her own British pole vault record at a meeting in France.

The 20-year-old cleared 4.71 metres at the first attempt to improve her previous best by one centimetre.

The Chorley-based athlete, who only turned pro in 2010, was delighted with her indoor showing.

"I was so happy when I cleared 4.61m but, when I cleared 4.71m, I was ecstatic," she said.

It caps a remarkable year for Bleasdale, who won the European Under-23 title in July.

She failed to register a height at the World Championships in Daegu, but this latest jump marks her out as a genuine medal contender for the London 2012 Olympics.

The record was even more remarkable, given the fact she was competing off a 12-stride approach as opposed to her usual 16 strides.

"I knew I had capabilities of getting 4.61 but getting 4.71 in competition was such a surprise," said Bleasdale, who only entered the competition in Orleans to break up her winter training.

"Training has been going amazing and I was really confident and just wanted to have fun seeing as it was just a small competition off a short approach and I did not taper for it.

"I can't wait to see what I can vault off 16 strides."

Bleasdale's training partner, Katie Byres, cleared 4.16m to earn fifth place and become the UK indoor junior record-holder.