Bleasdale hopes home wind can generate medal

Promising British pole-vaulter thrived during blustery qualifiers

That a home crowd can lift home athletes to unforeseen heights is the known unknown of an Olympic Games. It is unquantifiable, although that has not stopped those in charge of UK Sport from trying to do so, but it is there. Britain is overachieving in London and home advantage is part of the reason. Holly Bleasdale will have to overachieve in the women's pole vault if she is to claim gold tonight, but that does not mean it will not happen.

It is not just the crowd that might provide a home advantage. Step forward the British weather. During Saturday morning's qualifying competition the blustery conditions made vaulting difficult – difficult enough that Fabiana Murer, the form athlete, failed to make it through to tonight's final.

The Brazilian had been heavily fancied to offer the sternest challenge Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva has yet faced to her standing as Olympic champion. But Murer failed to clear 4.55m and departed, blaming the British weather.

Tonight's forecast in London is wet and blustery – just the way the 20-year-old from Preston prefers it. No pole-vaulter likes the wind as it makes the event much tougher and it can open up the field. It made for a testing qualifying session.

"I felt really good but I was very nervous," said Bleasdale. "I never felt something like that in my entire life, but crowd lifted me. I wanted to take it easy but it turned out to be a hard competition. I will now be trying to settle down. My legs are so tired."

She had yesterday to recover and will go into the final, the first of five in the stadium tonight, as one of the medal contenders.

Isinbayeva, who has been breaking world records in the event for nine years, remains favourite, not least for her formidable record in the Olympics. The 30-year-old from Volgograd won gold in Athens and Beijing – both with world records – but it is what has happened since the 2008 Games that has stirred the possibility that she may after all be beatable.

After a run of relatively poor results she decided to take a break from the sport. When she returned it was once again in partnership with Yevgeny Trofimov, the man who had first coached her in the sport. Form, though, continued to prove elusive and at last year's World Championships she came sixth.

A winter's training since may have done the trick. In March she won the world indoor title for the fourth time. On Saturday she was the leading qualifier, along with the American Jennifer Suhr, who will also be a contender. "I feel in top form," Isinbeyeva said.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project