HOLLY BRADSHAW has revealed how her world championship hopes were almost ended by the biggest scare of her career.
The British pole vaulter suffered a nightmare training session in Japan in May, which could have ended her dreams of appearing at this week’s IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha.
The Blackburn Harrier has a history of Achilles problems and after two accidents while vaulting, she feared she had once again hurt herself long-term.
Bradshaw, 27, told SunSport: “It was definitely the biggest scare I have had in my career. And it could have been a lot worse.
“The session I had after it, I was really scared. Even from a short approach on easy poles, I kept saying to my coach: ‘I don’t want to go. I’m scared.’ I was not in control.
“I’m normally the care-free person who picks up a pole, who runs down.
“But it was a slow process over 6-8 sessions where we have had to nudge my confidence a little bit each time.”
The box at the end of the run-up was faulty and it meant the pole kept popping out – and she never landed on the safety mat.
The 27-year-old feared the worse when her troublesome Achilles flare up following the accident. Though she has had plenty of falls in the past, this particular incident left her feeling shaken.
Bradhsaw, sponsored by Mizuno, said: “I had two rejections where I landed back on the track on my feet. And it flared up both of my Achilles.
“I was in so much pain. I needed to get back to the UK to get stability, see the doctor, get some reassurance. Luckily I was able to turn it around really quick. It was frustrating really. It was totally out of my hands.
“All the thoughts from when I had all the Achilles troubles came flooding back! I got myself in a panic and thought: ‘This is the middle of the season – what am I going to do?’ Luckily we were able to turn it around, which was a massive relief.
“The really scary thing about being an athlete is you are always on the edge.
“You could be walking down the street, roll your ankle and then all of a sudden you are out for six weeks.
“The falls in Japan not only hurt but it knocked my confidence a lot. It took five weeks to get my s*** back together. I have only just felt myself in these last few months.
“People have paralysed themselves in the pole vault. Broken bones. Broken their back. It really is a dangerous sport when you get it wrong.”
Bradshaw was sixth at the 2017 London world championships and won bronze at last year’s European championships in Berlin.
The biggest challenge comes from Greek Ekaterini Stefanidi, the Olympic and world champion. But the world No.10 reckons she can leap into the record books and stand tall on a global platform.
Bradshaw said: “Anyone of one of 10 of us could win a medal. I am definitely going there with the aim of winning a medal.
“I don’t really care what colour it is. But to get a world champ medal leading into an Olympic year would be a massive deal for me. I have always been hampered by my body. My psychology and physicality are strong.
“But my robustness, in terms of staying healthy, has always been my weakness.
“That was the difference in the last 18 months – the fact I haven’t had a surgery.
“I have been able to put together a week after week of training.
“Now, I have got myself in probably one of my best places of my career. And the results are showing.
“There are absolutely no excuses now. I need to go to the world champs and the Olympic Games over the next two years and deliver a medal-winning performance.”
Holly Bradshaw is a Mizuno Brand Ambassador. To buy bespoke Mizuno teamwear visit emea.mizuno.com/uk/en-gb/home/