Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Seeking Pole Position


After comfortably holding onto the UK number-one spot for the past five years, Kate Dennison is making changes following a below-par indoor season which saw the pole-vaulter pushed down the national pecking order, writes Nicola Bamford.

In a rare blip for her performances on the British scene, Dennison’s 2011 campaign was short and certainly not so sweet, following a best of only 4.26m – over half a metre short of her best mark.

Having competed on only three occasions, the 26-year-old not only lost her national indoor title for first time in five years but also the UK number-one tag to World junior bronze-medallist Holly Bleasdale – a promising young pretender to the long-term domestic crown.

Having returned from a long training spell in South Africa, the country of her birth, over the Christmas and New Year period, Dennison appears a shadow of her former self but fortunately, she can pinpoint as to the reasons why:

“I’ve been changing a few things technically this year, which takes time but it is starting to come together,” the former gymnast explains.

“Obviously, working with a new coach too takes time, but we are both learning how each other work.”

Having hooked up with Scott Simpson at her Loughborough University base last autumn and following a summer of several coaching switches, Dennison is content with her mentor at last.


The partner of Olympic 400m finalist Martyn Rooney, Dennison is eager to return to her 2009 form which saw her break the British record an incredible thirteen times.

The current national indoor and outdoor record-holder with a leap of 4.60m, suffered a turbulent outdoor season last summer, evidently caused in part by the unstable guidance in her training camp.

A psychology graduate from Staffordshire University, Dennison endured much heartache in a year which began in promising fashion.

Having taken her fifth consecutive national indoor title with 4.40m, she went on to record her British best before failing to qualify for the final of the World indoor Championships in Doha, Qatar and the problems rolled on from there.

In the summer, Dennison managed only seventh in the European Team Championships (with 4.20m) and despite winning her fourth straight UK outdoor crown (with 4.45m), disappointed in both major championships of the season – placing sixth and third, respectively in the European Championships and Commonwealth Games.

2010 was ‘solid’ but she ‘wanted more’ after leaping 4.55m in the continental event in Barcelona and giving away the gold medal in Delhi with 4.25m after being tipped as the pre-competition favourite.


Although understandably frustrated with the past two seasons, Dennison remains confident and upbeat ahead of the important 2011 outdoor campaign.

Keen to hone the new skills she has been working hard on through the winter, the six-time national junior champion and nine-time senior champion is determined to approach the summer season as a new, improved athlete:

“Training is going well with the focus on the summer this year and with the World champs late August,” she reveals on her main goal of the year, the global event in Daegu, South Korea.

“I want top-five but will hopefully be jumping the same heights that can get me a medal.”

Eager to progress from sixth place from the 2009 Berlin edition, Dennison is even more determined to improve for when it matters most – in the Olympic Games in London next summer.

Failing to go beyond the qualifying round in Beijing in 2008, Dennison simply insists that a medal is the key priority and if patience is a virtue, then this certainly is her best asset in the pressure-filled build-up.

And hoping her current training re-vamp pays off sooner rather than later, Dennison may well manage to return to not only domestic supremacy but also a world-class level in time for her Olympic test.

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