A SPORTS lecturer at Stratford College will have more than just a professional interest in the Rio Olympics – as his wife is competing.
Paul Bradshaw, himself an 800-metre runner who has represented both England and Great Britain, has jetted out to Brazil to help wife Holly in her bid for a medal when she competes for Great Britain in the pole vault.
As part of “Team Holly” he devotes the same level of dedication and determination as he does to his students at the Alcester Road College.
Paul said: “Everything I do outside work is channelled into that, from her nutrition to the specifics of her physical preparation. Most of our conversations are about training. Our personal lives are now on hold.”
They are confident Holly is capable of winning a medal. Despite numerous injuries since competing in the London 2012 Olympics, where she finished in 6th place, she is now totally fit.
Holly told The Observer: “I’ve been putting everything I’ve got into training in preparation for these Olympics. I think my biggest asset is my psychology; mentally I’m strong; I feel I’m capable of anything! If I do my best, I really think I can do myself and Paul proud and win a medal at Rio for Great Britain.”
Paul, who joined the college last September, has already made a huge impact on students.
And Holly recently joined him at the college to give a training session of her own.
Paul himself took up athletics at the age of 15 and joined his local athletics club. He initially took part in the 100 metres and the javelin, but switched to the 800 metres on the advice of his coach who spotted where his true talent lay.
He joined Blackburn Harriers, his local club in Lancashire, and quickly progressed to county level. At university, he continued to compete, winning the British University championships in 2009 and being selected for Team GB at the European Championships in Lithuania.
Paul counts being chosen to be part of the Great Britain team as his proudest achievement, and today gains satisfaction from watching his students excel.
He told The Observer: “Seeing students doing well is a great replacement for winning a race.
“When you cross the finish line it’s all because of your hard work and you get to experience the adrenalin rush that comes with that. Teaching is a great substitute though – especially when I get to work with students who succeed beyond their expectations.”
And Paul is in no doubt as to what makes a successful athlete:
“Mental attitude is so important. True talent is 50 per cent physical and 50 per cent mental. When you get both of these factors together, that’s when you get an élite athlete.
“I’ve got a reputation as a strict teacher. When I was competing, I got so used to trying to win that I always expect that of my students. My standards never drop. My students soon got the message and they’ve come a long way; I’m really proud of them.”
Student Louis Yeomans was among those to attend Holly’s Olypian workout.
He said “I always watch the Olympics when it’s on, however I’ve never watched the pole vault. I’ll definitely be watching this year though to see how Holly gets on. Good luck in Rio, hope you bring back the Gold Holly.”