04 DEC 2012 General News Birmingham, UK

Grabarz, Bleasdale and Proctor set to star in British Athletics series

Robert Grabarz of Great Britain competes in the Men's High Jump qualification during day two - WIC Istanbul (Getty Images)Robert Grabarz of Great Britain competes in the Men's High Jump qualification during day two - WIC Istanbul (Getty Images) © Copyright

4 December 2012 – Birmingham – Three of Britain’s Olympic finalists have confirmed their participation in the Birmingham and Glasgow indoor legs of the world-class 2013 British Athletics Series.

Olympic bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz, World indoor Pole Vault bronze medallist Holly Bleasdale and World indoor Long Jump bronze medallist Shara Proctor will all compete at the British Athletics Grand Prix in Birmingham, an IAAF Indoor Permit Meeting, on Saturday February 16.

Three weeks before that though, all three Olympic finalists will grace Glasgow’s brand new Emirates Arena on Saturday January 26 for the British Athletics International Match. The match’s unique five-team format will see a British squad go head-to-head over an afternoon of world-class athletics with the USA, Russia, Germany and a Commonwealth Select team in the first international athletics event at the 5000-seat arena.

All three athletes will be keen to repeat the success that they enjoyed at the two events earlier this year. Birmingham’s NIA was a particularly happy stomping ground for Grabarz, Proctor and Bleasdale; all three having beaten strong fields in front of the sell-out crowd in February.

Grabarz – who enjoyed a breakthrough 2012 that saw him win Olympic high jump bronze, European gold, the Samsung Diamond League High Jump title as well as equal the British outdoor record of 2.37m – is determined to pick up from where he left off last summer.

“I can’t wait to get back to competing in the new year,” he said. “I’ve been training hard over the autumn and winter months so will hopefully have some really strong performances in store for the British Athletics Series.

“Representing Britain is always special and the International Match in Glasgow will be even more so in January when we are the first athletes to compete at the new arena, which looks like an unbelievable facility.

“I jumped really well at the indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham earlier this year too. I would love to win that event in front of my home crowd at the NIA again.

“More than anything, I am just looking forward to facing some really tough competition again in the two world-class meets. Competing in front of great crowds against the best athletes is what I thrive on.”

Bleasdale made a name for herself last winter when she vaulted to a British record 4.87m indoors and held the world-leading mark at one point in early 2012. She followed that up with a first major medal, bronze at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Istanbul in March. Having only just turned 21, she believes that even more is in store for 2013.

“I had a really good indoor season in 2012 so I can’t wait to get back on the runway for the 2013 season,” she said. “With a great new coach in Dan Pfaff and after another hard winter of training, I would love to go even higher than 4.87m this season and improve my British record again.

“The support for athletics has gone through the roof since the Olympics so it will be great to entertain the fans again in Glasgow and Birmingham. They should both be brilliant events.”

Long jumper Proctor also enjoyed a stellar indoor season in 2012, breaking the British indoor record on her way to clinching bronze at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul.

The Olympic finalist, who has recently moved to Loughborough on a full-time basis along with her coach Rana Reider, sees the British Athletics Series as a highlight of her winter, in no small part due to the packed houses that greet athletes at every event.

“I’m really excited about competing in Glasgow and Birmingham again this season. Last year I jumped pretty well indoors, especially in Birmingham, and the crowd was really great. That’s one thing that you can guarantee about these British indoor meets, the atmosphere is always amazing. Hopefully I can do well again this winter and put on a good show for the British fans at both events.”

Grabarz, Bleasdale and Proctor will be joining three-time Olympian Lee McConnell in Glasgow, who will be running 200m for the Commonwealth Select team at the International Match.

Organisers for the IAAF