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pooley off to prague

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Isobel Pooley

25 February 2015

Isobel Pooley (coach: Fuzz Ahmed) will be on her way to Prague next week after earning selection for the European Indoor Championships to be held over the 6-8 March.

After a breakthrough year in 2014 which saw her equal the previous British record in the high jump, Pooley has her eyes set on making the European Indoor final and competing with some of the world’s best high jumpers in the Czech Republic.

The Aldershot Farnham and District athlete said: “I am delighted to be selected for the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team in Prague. This one was always on my radar after my performances last summer when I added five centimetres to my PB. I knew if I could continue those performances, then I would move up in status from a maybe, to definitely looking towards the European Indoors and other Championships.

“The European Indoors was always part of the plan during the winter training. I just wanted to get the standard and perform well at the trials to get that automatic selection, so I managed to do half of that.”

Pooley jumped the standard in Cottbus, Germany last month but faced a strong domestic field in Sheffield at the Sainsbury’s Indoor British Championships where she finished in third, just outside the automatic selection places. The Fuzz Ahmed-coached athlete admits that it was a disappointing performance by her high standards.

“I knew I would face formidable competition at the British Championships from Katarina (Johnson-Thompson) and Morgan (Lake). I think I put too much pressure on myself and that resulted in an average 1.88m jump. I was really pushing for that excellent breakthrough performance.”

Johnson-Thompson set an outright British record in Sheffield of 1.97m but this does not faze Pooley. It rather spurs her on to jump even further this year, and she is pleased that the high jump is in such good health in Britain.

“We are really driving the event forward and pushing it higher. High jump is full of clichés but Kat (Johnson-Thompson) has raised the bar for us all. Last year she jumped 1.96m indoors and then I went on to match that outdoors, so who knows what is going to happen this year. She has laid down the gauntlet and it is now up to me to rise to it – that’s my speciality.

“She is an incredible athlete, full credit to her and her coach. As much as I respect her, it doesn’t change the plan myself and my coach (Fuzz Ahmed) are sticking to. It gives us a benchmark and motivation.”

The Loughborough-based athlete is confident in her ability heading into these European Indoor Championships and is ready to compete with the continent’s best high jumpers, and enjoy the experience.

“This is a great opportunity for me to compete against the best athletes on a big stage. I’ve competed against the girls on many occasions such as Ruth Beitia (reigning European Indoor champion) and Kamila Licwinko (European leader), who are in stunning form at the moment. To have been part of those competitions has given me such a boost as I have been up there competing with them.

“There are no surprises to be had competing against these girls but I need to stick to my guns and execute my own technique.”

“Even when the pressure is on and I’m in a GB & NI vest, I think, this is what I’ve trained for so I won’t let the pressure of the occasion get to me. I need to go in with one target, and that is to enjoy it to the fullest. I know when I am enjoying my high jump, I thrive off it.

“I know if I embrace that then the big performance will follow. I know I deserve to be there, I have earned my place and there is no question that I can go out here and reach the final if I do everything I say I do.”

With a number of exciting opportunities on the horizon such as the World Championships in Beijing later this year, the Rio Olympics in 2016 and a home World Championship in London in 2017; there is plenty for the former University of Nottingham student to look forward to. The competition in Prague is a key stage in the development of the 22 year-old as she looks to build up Championship experience.

“It is absolutely huge – an exciting time ahead. the indoor season is a chance to make mistakes and learn from them, and jump against really good people. I’ve made some mistakes but also made some good decisions this season which puts me into a really strong position heading into the summer.

“I feel like I’ve really come on in leaps and bounds over the first two months of 2015, so give me a few more months and I’ll be well on my way to become a world class performer.”

You can follow Isobel's journey on Twitter @IsobelPooley and on her website www.isobelpooley.com