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Midweek Speak  Kate Dennison

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Kate Dennison
Dennison - Ambitions to cut it on the world stage


18 February 2009

For someone who spent the weekend launching herself higher than a double decker bus, Kate Dennison shows a remarkable aptitude for keeping her feet firmly on the ground.

“As much as I had a great weekend,” said the 24 year old, who broke the UK indoor pole vault record at the Aviva European Trials & UK Championships on Saturday, “I still know that 4.45m is not cutting it on the world stage.”

The Steve Rippon-coached athlete produced one of the standout performances in Sheffield when she improved her PB by 5cm, adding 1cm to the previous women’s record held by Janine Whitlock from the same championships seven years earlier. But she is not allowing herself to get carried away.

“(Yelena) Isinbeyeva is in a league of her own.” She says of the iconic Russian athlete, who improved her indoor world record to 5.00m in Donetsk at the weekend. “But I’m looking at the girls who are vaulting around 4.60/4.70 and targeting them. But it has to be one step at a time.

“I want to be getting to the final at the European Indoors and I think I will have to get around 4.45 or 4.50 to do that.” She said looking forward to the Turin-hosted championships on March 6-8, for which her weekend’s performance clinched her automatic selection.

Though she takes a pragmatic view of her progress, there is no doubt that Dennison – befitting a pole vaulter – is an athlete who is very much ‘on the up’. She endured a problematic 2008 where she struggled with injury to both Achilles tendons and a quad muscle tear, but still managed to set a PB of 4.40m and narrowly miss out on a final place at the Olympic Games.

She had surgery on her tendons in September and intended to have a gentle re-introduction to competition during the winter, but has found herself in better form than ever. “I wasn’t particularly targeting the indoors, but things have been going well.

“I’m still not fully back to where I should be. I’ve had to go back to basics. I’ve had to have a short run up on 12 strides, normally it would be 16. I have been using the new downhill run-up at the Loughborough,” she said, referring to facility UKA Hi-PAC Centre that is her training base. “and it has allowed me to go off a short run-up, use big poles and clear bigger heights.It’s really given me a lot of confidence. I’ve just got to keep my head straight now and concentrate on jumping well.”

After her record-breaking performance on Saturday, she immediately embraced coach Rippon. “Steve has been there all the way through. To be honest I should have been doing this two years ago. But I’m pleased we are there now and most of it is down to him.”

Her delight was shared by boyfriend Martyn Rooney, Olympic 400m finalist, who was also in attendance to witness her record-breaking feat which secured her a $5000USD bonus. “You don’t really earn much from athletics, so I think I’ll be saving the money. But I might go away for a weekend with Martyn in a month or two.” She said as way of a rare treat for the hard-working couple.

Kate Dennison will be competing in the women’s pole vault at the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham on Saturday alongside Russia’s Yelena Isinbeyeva and six other premier international vaulters.