Holly Bradshaw makes British Olympic history with pole vault bronze in Tokyo

·5 min read

Holly Bradshaw clinched bronze in the pole vault to make British Olympic history in Tokyo.

The 29-year-old finished behind the USA’s Katie Nageotte and the ROC’s Anzhelika Sidorova to further boost Team GB in the Olympic Stadium following the return of Dina Asher-Smith.

She is the first British athlete to win a pole vault medal at an Olympic Games.

Bradshaw finished sixth at London 2012 and fifth five years ago in Rio having also come fourth at the World Championships in 2019 and ended her agonising run in Japan.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – Day Thirteen
Bradshaw won her first Olympic medal in Tokyo (Martin Rickett/PA)

Only three along with Bradshaw – Sidorova, Nageotte and Katerina Stefanidi – cleared 4.70m to go into a straight shootout for the podium.

Bradshaw cleared 4.80m at her second attempt, with the bar wobbling, before going over 4.85m first time.

Defending champion Stefanidi’s failure at 4.85m and 4.90m guaranteed the Briton a medal but she could not clear the new height and secured bronze.

Bradshaw told the BBC: “This is what I’ve worked for my whole career.

“I don’t know what emotion I’m feeling: relief, pure enjoyment, excited, proud of myself for sticking with it. I knew I could get there one day.

“It was a tricky competition, it was a constant headwind. My experience kicked in, I kept my nerve, had a bit of a wobble at 4.70 but cleared it and it was just that experience that played out today.”

She added: “It’s still not really sunk in. I knew I could come in and deliver a medal-winning performance but I really felt like I was ranked fifth coming in.

“I knew I had to dig something out and I really feel like I did. I earned that medal and I’m really proud of myself and all of my team for just sticking with me.”

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – Day Thirteen
Asher-Smith ran the third leg of the relay in Tokyo (Joe Giddens/PA)

Bradshaw’s medal was just Team GB’s second in athletics after Keely Hodgkinson’s 800m silver on Tuesday.

It also came after Asher-Smith’s successful return to the track after last week’s drama.

The 25-year-old saw her Games wrecked by a hamstring injury she suffered in June and pulled out of the 200 metres after failing to reach the 100m final last week.

She helped the 4x100m relay team set a new British record of 41.55 seconds to win their heat and reach the final.

The world 200m champion said: “It (winning a medal) would be absolutely amazing but again that is not the thing I think about right now. It is about staying focused.

“That is where my head has been for the past week. It hasn’t been in what happened. It hasn’t been about the 100m or 200m. It has been about me getting back on the training track and making sure I bring my absolute A-game to this race.

“Of course, it (a medal) would mean incredible things to everybody. We are the bronze medallists in Rio. It would be amazing for us to get another medal again, for all of us, for all of our lives, for all of our individual dreams and aspirations.

“To get that we have to stay focused and make sure we execute and do what needs to be done.

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“After the 100m I did say there was no way I wasn’t going to be here for the 4x100m girls. I only had one day off then John (Blackie, coach) had me back on the training track.

“Essentially all I need is a few more weeks and sessions. He was saying if I had a few more days it would have been the 100m final, another week and it would have been 10.8. It’s one of those things where I’m chasing times.”

The British team qualified for Friday’s final fastest, ahead of the USA and Germany and Asha Philip, a member of the squad who won bronze in Brazil, believes they will challenge again.

“A medal is definitely on the cards for us. I never like to jinx it but seeing that and the time…” she said, with Imani-Lara Lansiquot and Daryll Neita completing the squad.

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“I saw Dina get the baton and she is sprinting round that bend and we know how great she is on that top bend. Daryll was capable of bringing it home.

“It was a good race, a nice warm-up for us. We were up at 4am, on the 6.40am bus and started warming up at 7.30am. All these times we haven’t seen in a while.

“It was great for us and to come out with that time, it gives us energy and we’re going to come out tomorrow with the same energy.”

The men’s 4x100m relay team finished second in their heat to reach the final.

CJ Ujah, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, Richard Kilty and Zharnel Hughes clocked 38.02 seconds.

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Kilty said: “We want to win every heat. We are that good. We want to win the heat, we want to win the final. We are going to win the final.

“We know what we have got to do to win it. There is more in the tank. We are going for the gold.”

The women’s 4x400m squad of Emily Diamond, Zoey Clark, Laviai Nielsen and Nicole Yeargin reached the final after coming third in their heat while Jake Wightman, Josh Kerr and Jake Heyward reached the 1,500m final.

Andrew Pozzi came seventh in the 110m hurdles final – which was won by Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment.

Morgan Lake also reached the high jump final after clearing the automatic qualifying height of 1.95m.

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