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pooley makes a leap for the big stage

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Isobel Pooley

7 November 2014

“I’m not scared of the big stage anymore, I relish it.”

These are the words of the joint British record holder and Commonwealth silver medallist in the high jump, Isobel Pooley (coach: Fuzz Ahmed), whose leap of 1.96m in late August symbolised a coming of age for the twenty-one year-old.

The Aldershot Farnham & District athlete enjoyed one of the finest moments of her athletics career so far at the high jump meeting in Eberstadht, Germany, where she equalled the UK record set by Katarina Johnson-Thompson, indoors this year. She added four centimetres to her previous personal best to top the UK all-time list outdoors.

“I felt like I belonged there. I had the opportunity to impress the crowd and show off my absolute love for high jump. I reaped the rewards of all the hard work and devotion I have put in during the year”, Pooley said.

Prior to her record-breaking jumps in Germany, Pooley had hit the heights on the big stage where she won her first senior medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. A silver medal behind the Australian Eleanor Patterson was the reward for the English athlete and at the time, the leap of 1.92m was a new personal best.

“I always go in and do the best I can and maybe get in the mix for a medal and grab it if I get the chance. That was the approach I took at the Commonwealths and I’m absolutely delighted that it worked out.

“The fact that I had done it there and not at a low level meet and then crumbled on the big stage was a good thing. I’m learning to thrive off the pressure.”

Despite her success in Scotland, she was not getting too carried away and knew she had the ability to jump even higher.

“My coach said after the 1.92m PB in Glasgow, ‘well done…it’s good but not that good yet’. Jumping wise I had further to go but the achievement was performing on the big stage.”

Pooley speaks highly of her coach saying, “Moving to train with Fuzz (Ahmed) has been the turning point in my career. He could see my potential but it was about me believing in myself to reach those levels. We are now more on the same page and demanding a lot more, and he can tap into the ambition that I have.

“I have a tangible aim to win an Olympic medal – that is something I would never have dared to voice before this summer. Confidence is not something you stumble across – it is something you work hard to earn. He has the expertise to get me there, 100%.”

The Nottingham University student has her sights set firstly on selection for the World Championships in Beijing next year and then the Rio Olympics in 2016 but she is aware of the heights she is going to have to make to achieve these goals.

“My baseline target next year will be 1.92-1.93m - that has got to be the target. Hopefully this will make me a formidable contender going into Rio 2016 which really has to be the big aim.

“I’d love to reach the world championship final next year. I think once you are in there anything can happen. Hopefully I will be in the mix with competitive heights in Beijing which will give me even more confidence.”

Pooley is pleased that so many people have engaged with the high jump after a fascinating year when the women’s British record was broken by two athletes, and the men’s world record was challenged on a frequent basis. She is excited about her own prospects and is hoping to keep enjoying the event which means so much to her.

“I can hand on heart say I adore the high jump and I wouldn’t be without it.”