Holly Bradshaw delivered Team GB’s first pole vault medal in Olympic history with a brilliant bronze in Tokyo – proving all good things come to those who wait.
Bradshaw was sixth at London 2012 before finishing fifth five years ago in Rio and, aged 29, is one of the most popular and long-serving members of the British team.
In a tense competition, only three athletes were left at 4.90m, Bradshaw, USA’s Katie Nageotte and world champion Anzhelika Sidorova, of the Russian Olympic Committee.
A narrow fail with her third and final attempt meant the six-time British champion took bronze, with Nageotte in gold and Sidorova in silver.
Bradshaw, 29, from Preston, said: “This is what I’ve worked for through my whole career.
“I’ve had so many ups and downs, it’s something that I’ve wanted so bad and it’s finally happened.
“It’s not sunk in. I’m almost emotionless because I don’t know what emotion it is I’m feeling, it’s relief, pure enjoyment and excitement.
“I’m proud of myself for sticking with it. I knew I could get it one day, I just can’t express how grateful I am to be involved in this sport and finally get an Olympic medal.”
With plenty of athletes missing out at early heights, it would have been easy for Bradshaw to be panicked on an occasion that meant so much.
But she kept her cool and produced the performance to match, giving her and coach Scott Simpson a moment they have both worked so hard for.
She added: “It’s really tricky at competition. The wind was very tiny but a constant headwind. Fifth place was 4.50m in an Olympic final so it was very hard.
“My experience kicked in, I kept my nerve. I had a bit of a wobble at 4.70m but cleared it and that was a massive relief.
“What a competition. We’ve worked so hard, my family, my coach, my husband all stuck with me.
“Scott and I have been working together for eight or nine years, and it’s not just an athlete-coach relationship, it’s a deep friendship.
“We rely on each other step of the way. I couldn’t wish for a better mentor, friend and he means the world to me.”