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Bleasdale is in pole position as Scots deliver uplifting results at UK Indoor Championships

It is a measure of Holly Bleasdale's supremacy in the pole vault that the Englishwoman had only herself to beat when she entered the fray in Sheffield yesterday at the UK Indoor Championships, with all her would-be domestic rivals long since bowing out.

Holly Bleasdale lets out a victory shriek on her way to winning the pole vault in Sheffield   Photograph:PA
Holly Bleasdale lets out a victory shriek on her way to winning the pole vault in Sheffield Photograph:PA

The 22-year-old took world indoor bronze in 2012, but will go to the Polish city of Sopot next month with genuine ambitions of victory.

Free of the injuries which decimated her 2013 campaign, and settled in Cardiff, the European champion says the key to her new formula has been getting "back to having fun".

All she could ask for in addition is some stiffer domestic competition as a spur. Only when Lucy Bryan bowed out did Bleasdale switch from spectator to combatant, steadily raising the bar to clear 4.73 metres and top the global rankings.

It is hard, she confessed, when the only rival is herself. "I had to warm up and wait for two hours to come in. But I'm used to that now. It's been like that for a couple of years here.

"It really does help having the crowd behind you. But I try to stay as motivated and confident throughout that period."

Heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson felt the heat of a rival, but eventually burnt off the challenge in the high jump. It was unfortunate for Jayne Nisbet that even breaking a Scottish indoor best that had been held by Jayne Barnetson for 25 years could not quite suffice.

Nisbet cleared 1.87 metres, a promising sign for her Commonwealth hopes, but Johnson-Thompson provided another glimpse of her potential to take over Jessica Ennis-Hill's mantle by establishing a British record of 1.96m, earning a £5000 bonus for her troubles.

"I'm not a high jumper," she protested. A little too much, perhaps. Yet the 21-year-old Liverpudlian will fly to Holland this week to secure her spot in Sopot where she would surely take part in what she hopes will be the first of three major medals in 2014. She said: "The Commonwealths are my main aim this year. I was going to go to the Europeans for the long jump because I feel that's my best event. I'm not too sure any more. But it's definitely heptathlon at the Commonwealths."

Laura Muir has settled on 800 metres for her world indoor campaign and the Glasgow University student coasted into today's final with victory in her heat.

It was another mature performance from the 20-year-old, who remains the quickest in the world at the distance.

Jenny Meadows, with a point to prove after being cut from the Lottery funding list, was the fastest qualifier. It will be an intriguing clash between the prospect and the proven.

"Jenny's really strong," Muir said. "She's far more experienced than me. She'll put in a tough race. But I won the 1500 metres title last year so to get the 800 would mean a lot."

Hers was among a glut of fine middle-distance performances from the Scottish contingent, with Guy Learmonth imposing himself in his 800 metres semi-final. The Borderer senses he can beat domestic rival Andrew Osagie for the title, but he will need to set a personal best of one minute and 47 seconds to be guaranteed a world indoor slot.

"My aim was to go as slow as possible to conserve energy for the final," Learmonth said. "I just waited for everyone else to take it on and then sat in to take it easy. It's been the best winter's preparation I've ever had. It started well in Glasgow and then I had a good 800m, but there's a lot more in the tank. The aim is to get the job done here and then look to run faster."

Chris O'Hare was one of four Scots into the 1500 metres final, and he was joined by Kris Gauson, Shaun Wyllie and Myles Edwards. Great Britain relay hopeful Jamie Bowie will line up in the 400 metres final while Eilidh Child will defend her title despite heavy strapping on her leg.

"I cut my leg doing cleans with weights," she said. "My shin is totally annihilated. It was either plasters all the way up my leg - which looked horrendous - or a bandage, but it's just a cut. I don't do mind games."

James Dasaolu ran 6.50m to edge out rival Dwain Chambers in the men's 60m final while Asha Philip ran 7.09 seconds to take the women's 60m title - the second fastest time in British history.

Eilish McColgan last night pulled out of this afternoon's 3000m final, citing fatigue after returning from Kenya just 24 hours earlier, but the world championship finalist is still expected to compete in Saturday's Grand Prix in Birmingham.

oJax Thoirs set a Scottish indoor pole vault record of 5.50m in New Mexico yesterday, beating his existing mark by 10 centimetres.

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