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Molly Caudery: British pole vaulter eyes European gold in Rome before shot at Olympic glory

Written by on June 7, 2024

Caudery won Commonwealth silver in 2022 but it was at last year’s World Championships in Budapest, where she produced a lifetime best to finish fifth at her first global event, that her rapid rise to prominence truly took off.

That captivating final culminated in shared gold between American Katie Moon and Australian Nina Kennedy. Fast forward six months, and it was reigning Olympic champion Moon congratulating newly-crowned world indoor champion Caudery in Glasgow.

It was a breakthrough success which followed a superb start to 2024, with three personal bests in just four weeks elevating her to genuine medal contender.

The third, a clearance over 4.86m in France in February, remains a world-leading mark this year – and brought Caudery within four centimetres of Olympic bronze medallist Holly Bradshaw’s British record.

“I still feel a little bit of imposter syndrome,” she adds.

“I still don’t believe this is really happening to me, that I’m world champion. I’m definitely still adjusting to that.

“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind but it’s been incredible. I am really enjoying the journey and I’m so grateful for it.”

While Paris draws ever closer, leading some to avoid competing in Rome, the opportunity presented by the European Championships is certainly not lost on Caudery.

Prior to her spectacular progress over the past 10 months, the Cornwall athlete had her sights set on the LA 2028 Olympic Games. A first major outdoor success in Monday’s final would only add to the belief she will proceed to make a mockery of that schedule in Paris.

Yet it has ensured Caudery can approach the most significant moment of her career to date unaffected by the ever-increasing external expectations.

“My goal had been to make the Olympics but now it is about really showing up, and I would love to be on the podium,” she says.

“The relaxed state I’m in is really perfect. I’m just enjoying the journey and seeing where that takes me.

“It’s been going so well and I’ve not felt too much pressure. Everything else that follows feels like a cherry on top.”

As much as anything, the key to success for Caudery from here may be ensuring she can remain injury-free.

The Briton has an extensive list of previous injuries, among them being the occasion she almost lost a finger in a freak gym accident in 2021.

But while she has learned the hard way, Caudery knows how she must approach the weeks ahead.

“Injuries can come out of nowhere and I’ve probably experienced more than most,” she admits.

“It’s a case now of being careful, wrapping myself up in bubble wrap and not doing anything crazy. Not training too hard or doing anything differently, just trying to stay in one piece.

“I have had this new fire in my belly since the world indoors and I asked my coach if there is anything else I can do to have a better chance of being on the podium in Paris, but the answer is no. I just need to carry on doing what I’m doing, that’s my best chance of getting to where I want to be.”

Competing alongside Caudery in Rome will be 32-year-old Bradshaw, who three years ago became the first British woman to win an Olympic pole vault medal and has acted as a reassuring source of guidance to her younger team-mate.

As Caudery prepares for her first Olympics, former training partner Bradshaw hopes to compete at her fourth following a difficult 2023 in which she questioned her future in the sport.

“Me and Holly have a really great relationship,” says Caudery. “When I joined the group I was still really young and I learned so much from her about what it takes to be a professional athlete, the commitment it takes and everything else.

“I spent a good three years of my career learning from one of the world’s best pole vaulters. I’m so lucky to have had that opportunity and someone to guide me.

“She has always been there to support me and I’m really grateful to have had her around.

“We have not competed against each other in a while now, she looks great and I think it could be a really fun competition.”

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