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heroes midweek speak

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Sarah Holt
Holt receives funding from Original Source

21 July 2009

Hammer-thrower Sarah Holt achieved one of the best results of her career after taking bronze at the European Under-23 Championships in Lithuania this weekend.

The 22-year-old took her place on the podium after her throw of 62.55m with Moldova's Zalina Marghieva taking gold with a best effort of 67.67m.

And although Holt believes she could have matched that distance, the British number three was delighted to be heading home from Eastern Europe with a medal to declare.

"There is a big difference in what you can do on paper and what you can do when the pressure is on at the Championships," said Holt - who is one of 15 athletes who have been selected for the Original Source-funded UKA Heroes project.

"Everything is very different when you are training by yourself and then doing it in front of a big crowd.

"I think I was capable of throwing 67m, but the girl who won it has thrown 71m before and before I came here I would have taken any medal.

"At major championships it is not so much about the distance you throw; it is all about getting onto the podium any way you can.

"The main thing I worked on was not getting too excited. I tried to treat it like a normal training session.

“My family have been out here with me so that's has helped relax and keep some sense of normality in the hysteria going on.”

Meanwhile, fellow UKA Hero Jess Leach admitted nerves got the better of her on the big stage after returning from Kaunas empty-handed.

High-jumper Leach, who finished joint tenth at the Aviva World Trials and UK Championships earlier this month, looked in great shape in qualifying as she sailed into Saturday's final with the fourth best clearance.

But in her first major championship final, the 22-year-old failed to repeat that form ending the competition in 12th with a jump of 1.75m - 13 centimetres down on her personal best.

And the Birchfield Harrier was honest in her reflection of the competition, revealing her failure to block out the pressure cost her a place on the podium.

“I started off really well in qualifying and everything was going to plan. I was doing exactly what my coach was telling me to,” said Leach - another of 15 athletes on the UKA Heroes project.

“But as soon as the final started, I began trying too hard and was powering round the bend when I am more natural than that.

“The final didn't begin until 5pm so I had a lot of time to kill and it was also scorching hot. I knew I could have won a medal because second and third got 1.86m and I know I am capable of that.

"The crowd did not bother me but it was the knowledge that I could get a medal that made me nervous.”

UKA Heroes project sponsored by Original Source is a successful initiative which offers financial support to talented young athletes who are working towards the 2012 and 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

More about the UKA Heroes Project sponsored by Original Source