Jennifer Suhr of the United States competes in the Women's Pole Vault final on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 6, 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Bleasdale cleared 4.45m to finish tied for sixth place and record the best ever performance at an Olympic Games by a female British pole vaulter. Although the British record holder was somewhat disappointed not to have vaulted higher, she was encouraged by the support of the capacity crowd in London.
"I’ve had so much support and now that I’ve experienced the excitement of the Olympics in London I’m really looking forward to the great atmosphere of the Alexander Stadium for the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix."
Still only 20 years old, Bleasdale intends to take some of the lessons learned from her first Olympic Games forward as she continues to stake her claim as one of the world’s best.
"To finish sixth place in my first Olympic final is pretty good. I think due to the lack of experience I have at major championships it wasn't the best set of conditions to contend with but I will learn from that and next time I will able to pick my game up. The crowd however, were absolutely amazing - they lifted me so much."
Suhr, who already held a silver medal from Beijing, cleared 4.75m in the Olympic Stadium to clinch victory ahead of Yarisley Silva of Cuba. The American, who is second to Yelena Isinbayeva on the Pole Vault all-time list, set a personal best the last time she competed at the Birmingham Alexander Stadium so is understandably looking forward to a return to the West Midlands.
"I’m excited about Birmingham. The fans in the UK are amazing and they showed that at the Olympics. The Alexander Stadium is great for us pole vaulters as well because the runway is so close to the crowd, so it feels like you’re on stage and you can really feel the energy from everyone.
"It’s an amazing feeling to be able to call myself Olympic Champion. After finishing second in Beijing four years ago I really wanted to take gold in London and so I’m glad I’ve been able to do it. I’ve had a great time in the UK and now I’ll look to celebrate with another good performance at the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix."
Both Bleasdale and Suhr will face stiff competition in Birmingham from the likes of Brazil’s Fabiana Murer and Germany’s Martina Strutz, who were first and second at last year’s World Championships in Daegu. Another German, Silke Spiegelberg, who won the pole vault at the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix last year and finished fourth place at the London 2012 Olympics, will also be competing.
Bleasdale has enjoyed a successful rise to prominence in 2012 that included a bronze medal at the World Indoor Championships in March, and she is keen to repeat the form that saw her set a new British record at the Aviva 2012 Trials in June at the Alexander Stadium.
"I’ve had such a good year starting from the indoors and stretching all the way to the Olympics. Hopefully I can keep it going for a few weeks longer and produce another big performance in Birmingham."
Gemili joins 200m field
Elsewhere, Adam Gemili has confirmed that he will run in the 200m in his first Samsung Diamond League appearance in the U.K.
The 18-year-old reached the semi-finals of the 100m at the Olympic Games in London with only four hundredths of a second separating the talented teenager from a place in the Olympic final. Despite coming so close to making the final, Gemili was more than satisfied with his performance.
"The Olympics was an amazing experience for me. I never thought in my wildest dreams that in eight months, I would go from playing non-league football to representing my country in the biggest sporting event in the world - the Olympic Games."
Gemili has enjoyed a meteoric rise after deciding to turn his focus from football to athletics in January, having previously played as a right back for non-league Thurrock FC. His decision to focus on athletics paid dividends as he was crowned World Junior Champion in July, - recording a personal best of 10.05 seconds - taking him to seventh in the all-time British rankings.
Despite his achievements, Gemili isn’t getting ahead of himself and is excited by the prospect of competing at the highest level over the next few years with Rio 2016 firmly in his sights.
"To compete in front of a capacity home crowd against the best athletes in the world gave me a real taste of what's to come in the next few years. To walk out to the roars of 80,000 people cheering you on is something I'll never forget."
In the meantime, Gemili is looking forward to being part of a world-class field in Birmingham. Gemili will be up against an all star line-up which includes Olympic finalists Ryan Bailey, Churandy Martina and Wallace Spearmon as well as relay teammate Christian Malcolm (Dan Pfaff), who reached the semi-finals of the 200m in London.
"The Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix will give me another opportunity to race against some of the guys that I went up against in the Olympic Games, and this is something I am relishing.
"It’ll be my first appearance in the Samsung Diamond League, and I'm really looking forward to walking out in front of another sell-out crowd in Birmingham and running a strong 200m."
Competing over 200m is a relatively new experience for Gemili, but after running 20.61 in Bedford in June, the 18 year old is looking forward to making his mark over the longer distance.
"There are going to be some 200m specialists out on the track, but I am keen to show that I can make that transition from the 100m and compete against the best.
"Make no mistake, it will be a fiercely contested race, but I'm more than capable of rising to the occasion and showing a glimpse of what is to come from me in the next few years."
Organisers for the IAAF
- Jennifer Suhr of the United States competes in the Women's Pole Vault final on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 6, 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
- Holly Bleasdale of Great Britain sprays her pole before a vault in the Women's Pole Vault final on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on 6 August 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
2003 ATC Debrecen