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Holly Bradshaw glad to be back after lost prize money and 'living like a hermit'

Sean Ingle
·2-min read

It has, to put it mildly, not been the smoothest buildup for Britain’s strongest gold medal contender at the European Indoor Championships this weekend. Not only have quarantine regulations forced the pole vaulter Holly Bradshaw to miss five events already this year, costing her thousands in prize money, but when she was able to go abroad she had a very public row on Twitter with Heathrow airport after waiting at passport control for three hours.

Bradshaw admits to having “lived like a hermit” during the pandemic. But the 29-year-old insists it will be all worth it this weekend if she wins her first major title since the European Indoors in Gothenburg in 2013.

Related: Katarina Johnson-Thompson says injury will not affect Olympic plans

“Logistically, this indoor season has been an absolute nightmare,” she said. “It’s hard enough to travel with poles as an athlete. I had to quarantine in France. Then I had to pull out of my first meet because of restrictions, and I didn’t get an opportunity to win the World Indoor Tour because they wouldn’t allow UK residents into the US and Spain. So I’ve lost out on £10,000.”

“At the time, I was massively frustrated. But my husband said to me: ‘You can earn money for the rest of your life but you can only win medals for the next couple of years. So, focus on the bigger picture, which is the European Indoors.’ I feel in incredible shape. I just want to do myself justice.”

As for the row with Heathrow, Bradshaw is defiant. “There were thousands of people crammed into one passport control area,” she said. “In the back of my mind, I was thinking: ‘I’ve got the European Indoors in five days’ time and I don’t know whether anyone’s got Covid in here.’

“Apart from that, I’ve literally stayed in my house or gone to the track. I do my Aldi click-and-collect and have seen no one. I know the chances of me catching Covid are very slim, but a couple of weeks ago I started to get a tickly throat and I thought: ‘Oh my God, have I got it?’ You get really paranoid because the consequences of getting Covid are huge.”

Britain’s 46-member squad in Poland is without many of the sport’s star names, with Katarina Johnson-Thompson injured and the world champion Dina Asher-Smith swerving the event. However, Andrew Pozzi and Jamie Webb have strong chances of gold while several exciting youngsters, including the 800m star Keely Hodgkinson and the pentathlete Holly Mills, make their senior debuts.