Countdown to Rio 2016 already started for Holly Bleasdale

Pole vaulter Holly Bleasdale takes her first significant steps towards success at Rio 2016 with return to training following an injury lay-off

Holly Bleasdale has taken her first significant steps towards success at Rio 2016 with a return to training following an injury lay-off.

The British pole vault record holder and European indoor champion is ready to hit the ground running again after suffering a double injury blow with Achilles and back problems during training which led her to miss the entire outdoor campaign last season.

The 21-year-old believes a strong winter training block will stand her in good stead for a busy 2014, where she will bid to better her World Indoor Championship bronze and claim Commonwealth Games gold for England.

“Being that young at my first Olympic Games, it was a major experience,” said Preston-born Bleasdale of London 2012, where she finished eighth.

“I had quite a lot of pressure on myself and put pressure on myself as well but apart from that I really, really enjoyed it.

“Deep down I know that I have that experience, and all of the things that I learnt from that I can move forward onto Rio which for me now is the next massive goal. I want to go there confident, happy and just do the best there that I can.

“Coming up first though I have got the World Indoor Championships which I love, and I won a bronze medal there last year so I want to improve on that and maybe get a silver or a gold.

“And I have never competed at a the Commonwealth Games before so I really want to go there, get a bit of experience, compete for my country and come away with a gold medal.”

Achieving those goals would represent a stunning return to fitness and form for Bleasdale, who is now based in Cardiff and working under the guidance of new coach, the American Dan Pfaff.

And she believes he is the man to put her on track to glory at Rio 2016.

“I just want to go and compete in another Olympics now but I have got quite a few championships before then which is good for me because I can learn from them,” said Bleasdale, who was speaking from the Sainsbury’s 2013 School Games in Sheffield, a competition she competed in as a youngster.

“I learn things every time I go and compete against the best girls in the world but Rio is always in the back of my mind.

“I just want to keep enjoying my sport, keep injury free, and keep progressing towards Rio. In the next two or three years I think I will be in a good place.”

The Sainsbury’s 2013 School Games, which is supported by National Lottery funding from Sport England and delivered by the Youth Sport Trust, was held in venues across Sheffield from 12-15 September 2013. Visit www.2013schoolgames.com for more information

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