Cambridge alumna Julia Bleasdale clocked up a personal best in the first round of the Women’s 5,000m yesterday, qualifying for the final on Friday evening.
Bleasdale, 30, who matriculated in 2000 and studied Engineering at Pembroke College, took more than eight seconds off her lifetime best on Tuesday to qualify automatically for Friday’s 5,000m final. She came 4th in her heat with a time of 15min 02.00sec. Bleasdale is one of 12 Cantabrigians, and six Cambridge Engineering alumni, to be competing at London 2012.
Fellow Briton Jo Pavey also qualified for the final as a fastest loser, coming seventh in the same heat with a time of 15min 02.84sec. These are Pavey’s third Olympics – she narrowly missed out on a 5,000m medal in Athens in 2004, coming in 5th.
After the race, Bleasdale, the British No.1 who is competing in her first Olympics, said, “I’ve got a very tight right calf, so I was a little bit conscious about that, but everything else felt perfect.”
Last week saw Bleasdale come 8th in the 10,000m final with another personal best time of 30min 55.63sec.
She credits her time at Cambridge with helping her hone her training methods.
“When I was a member of Cambridge University Hare and Hounds, we did similar training to what I do now,” she said. “The main difference was that back then, I was capable of covering only 50 miles a week, and wouldn’t run in the afternoon after a session in the morning. Now my training consists of 85 to 95 miles every week.
“It was good to have the demands of an Engineering degree to make sure I didn’t overtrain; at the time, my body wouldn’t have been strong enough to take it. The thing I remember most is when I won the cross-country Varsity Match in my final year. I set the course record which I believe still stands to this day.”
Cantabs have so far picked up 2 gold medals and 2 bronze medals at these Games, all for Team GB. As well as Bleasdale’s appearance on Friday, Cantabs to watch out for this week are Annie Lush (Emmanuel 1999), who is currently competing in the Women’s Elliot 6m sailing event which concludes on Saturday, and Stacie Powell (Churchill 2009), who competes in the Women’s 10m Platform diving event on Wednesday and Thursday.
Michael Yoganayagam – Associate News Editor