It’s been a great year for pole vaulter Kate Dennison, and she will be hoping to top that off with a strong performance at this month’s World Championships. Here she talks to Sportsister about being Britain’s top pole vaulter.
How did you start pole vaulting?
I was involved in gymnastics at a young age, and started pole vaulting at 16-17. A girl in my gymnastics club did pole vaulting and I joined her and thought it was fun.
Do you think the gymnastics background helped?
Definitely. I think it’s a great background that gives you a helping hand.
What sort of skills do you think help to be a good pole-vaulter?
I think it’s an all around package; you need to be able to run fairly quickly, be strong, have good core stability, and also be a little bit loopy! And not be afraid of heights!
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Do you miss team sports at all, or are you happy being more solitary?
I’m a little bit more of an individual, I like it when it’s just me, and I’m responsible for what I do, so I don’t have to worry about anyone else.
With your experiences of school sports, what do you think can be done to make girls stay in school sports more?
I think getting girls involved at a young age is fantastic, that’s what we need to do. I was always a sporty person myself, I’ve always loved sport, but not everyone does. I feel if I can be an inspiration, or even just give people the idea of pole vaulting from a young age, then hopefully they are more likely to keep doing sport or think about trying a new sport.
What would you tell other girls to encourage them to try pole vaulting?
I feel there’s a little more to it than some of the other events, it’s a very exciting event to do. Just go out and have fun!
Can you tell me a little bit about day to day training?
On Mondays and Wednesdays I pole vault in the mornings, and lift weights in the afternoons. Tuesdays and Thursdays I do gymnastics in the morning and some kind of running, and I do core stability and pole vault specific exercises in the morning. On Fridays I do low intensity plyometrics, and then some pre-hab or rehab, and some core stability. And then on Saturday I do more running, and a recovery swim on a Sunday. So it’s pretty intense!
Do you ever find it hard to stay motivated?
Loughborough is a great centre for elite athletics and there’s a lot of other elite athletes around that all want the same thing, so I think we all kind of thrive off each other, so no I don’t lack in motivation at all.
Have any top tips for Sportsister readers who might not always be motivated; what would you tell them to keep themselves going?
Being healthy and doing regular exercise helps you physically and it helps you mentally as well. It just helps you lead a better lifestyle generally. For myself I love it, but to stay positive always make sure it’s something you enjoy doing and not just a chore. So instead of running for twenty minutes, do something else like kickboxing, that’s more of a challenge, and fun and exciting.
Looking forwards to the World Championships… You’ve recently smashed two British records, you must feel like you’re in good form and quite confident?
Yes, I feel everything’s going well. I take each competition as another chance to try and jump higher.
If I can make the final that’s my first goal, and after that anything can happen.
How are you doing for injuries at the moment?
I had surgery in September last year, so there was going to be a little bit of rehab to keep on top of that but things have gone well so far.
You’re an Ambassador for UK Athletics in Leicestershire, what does that job entail?
It’s basically anything I can do to try and inspire youngsters to train and keep them happy in any way I can.
If you do get free time what do you do?
I’m quite social and into my films. I also really enjoy photography.
Louise Hudson, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine
Kate Dennison hosted an Aviva UKA Academy training session. The Aviva UKA Academy is a fresh new approach to grassroots sport, designed to give every child in the country the opportunity to get involved in athletics by 2012. For more information go to www.aviva.co.uk/athletics