An Interview with Team GB’s Holly Bradshaw
Team GB and Olympic athlete Holly Bradshaw is the current British record holder for the pole vault. She’s competed in numerous World and European Indoor Championships and now has her sights set on the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
What have been some of your personal career highlights to date?
I’d say two occasions spring to mind; I jumped 4.87m in 2012 and that was the fourth best height ever by a female, that’s one. Another was when I won my first major senior title at the 2013 European Indoor Championships. I got to stand on top of the podium and listen to the national anthem as a senior for the first time. They’re my main career highlights, but obviously competing at a home Olympics is up there as well.
Could you talk about some of your most challenging career moments and how you’ve overcome them?
I would say the main thing has been the injuries I’ve had over the past two years. It’s been setback after setback and it’s been really challenging having to deal with that. Not being able to compete in some of the major championships including the Commonwealth Games, the Europeans and some of the World Championships has been really challenging. I feel like coming out the other side of that has made me a much stronger athlete though. Obviously, I don’t wish injury upon myself, but I feel like it’s made me a better athlete having gone through that.
How tough has it been mentally to overcome those injuries?
Obviously if you’re sat at home watching everyone else out there competing, especially when it’s not just one injury, it’s one thing after another, you’ve got to stay motivated. You have to know you’re going to get back out there, that you’re going to keep up the routine, rehab, things like that. It’s difficult at the time because you think, ‘why am I doing this only to have setback after setback?’ You give so much to it. When you experience the highs that I have in sport, it makes it all worthwhile and it feels amazing so it’s always worth it in the end.
Why have you decided to complete a personal trainer qualification and what value do you think it will add to your current and post-athletics career?
It’s always been something that’s interested me really. I’ve always been involved in sport. I did A Levels in sport, I’m doing a sports degree at the minute, so anything involved with sport I love. I also like educating myself and bettering myself. I like sitting down with a journal, manual or textbook and learning from it. That’s kind of really geeky, but it’s a way to keep my mind away from pole vault the whole time. When I got the opportunity to do this qualification, I was really excited and I grabbed at it with both hands. Like I said, it’s always been something I wanted to do. I feel like it will really help me alongside my pole vault, in many different ways. It can only help me improve my sport and help me become more confident. Also, I’ve always wanted to go into coaching afterwards, but it’s something that I can actually do now. I can run some PT sessions and that’s really exciting.
Why have you chosen HFE for your personal training qualification?
I researched a few things online and noticed that HFE were really high up there with reviews. There are so many companies that do these qualifications, but now that I received the manuals in the post it got me so excited because it’s so professional. All the manuals are really good quality. I did a little bit of work on them yesterday actually, making sure I knew what topics I had to revise and when. It just makes you really excited to do the course. So, I did my research and went with you guys and now I know it was totally the right decision. HFE are a really professional company and I’m really excited to get going with it.
How are you balancing studying for this qualification with preparations for the Olympics?
It’s got to be done correctly and with precision. I’ve been doing a degree for the past couple of years and that’s distance learning. I’m pretty good at being organised and making sure I allocate times when I need to study and make sure I know in my mind when the deadlines are. I’m quite proactive and good at managing my time so I feel like it’s not going to be a big issue. I just need to make sure I have in mind, ‘this week I want to work on this topic’, ‘next week I want to work on this topic’, and make sure I hit those targets. I have a lot of time away from training to be honest, so it’s not going to be hard to fit in the studying.
Looking ahead to Rio, do you have a specific goal or height in mind you want to achieve?
I think it’s more of a case of going out there and focusing on my technique and working on process goals, that’s how I’m going be up there competing with the best. I want to be on the podium, I want to win a medal there, but I’m not going in there with a height in mind. I just want to make sure I set everything up correctly. I need to make sure I’m in good shape and when I get there, just focus on process goals – my run up, what I need to do in a jump, because ultimately that’s what’s going to make me jump higher.
What advice would you give to aspiring fitness professionals, athletics or otherwise?
I’d just say, ‘give it your all’. Make sure you stay committed and focused. That’s one of the things that I do, make sure I’m focused because I’m a really determined person and I have clear goals to focus on. You need to make sure you’re always having fun, I think athletes can be way too serious. Obviously you need to work hard in training sessions, like I always do, but I feel like there always needs to be an element of fun.
When I’m qualified as a personal trainer, I’d like to incorporate that element of fun and make sure the client or the athlete is having fun. Once things get stale and boring you’re less likely to want to come and do it. It’s about getting more involved in activity and more involved in sport and trying to get people fitter.