Here is Part 2 and the concluding half of an interview with rising GB athletics star high jumper Isobel Pooley. 

Can you pinpoint some highlights so farin your career?

There are so many to choose from! Jumping a new personal best at the Bedford International Games, booking myself a place on the GB team for my first senior international, jumping at the London Diamond League at Crystal Palace, then experiencing a major event like the Commonwealth Games, jumping for my country and making the podium, and of course clearing 1.96m and going higher than any British woman is a huge highlight.

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Do you have a sporting hero?

I really admire Jessica Enni-Hills. She is much loved across the nation and truly is Great Britain’s golden girl. She has overcome an athlete’s worst nightmare – injury and fulfilled her dreams and reached the absolute pinnicle of sport whilst remaining the most lovely person and mother!

You were voted in the Top 20 Most Beautiful European Athletes by French media…

I travelled to Finland to compete at the European Championships. I was proud to compete in my GB kit on the big stage in the blazing sunshine of Helsinki and loved every second of the experience.

When I arrived home, I found that a French website had included my photo in an album named ‘Les belles de l’Euro d’athlétisme’ (The beauties of the European Athletics Champs) and what’s more, my photo was listed second out of twenty!

I thought this was hilarious and very flattering.

Other photographers and journalists also noted my presence, including an Italian photographer and a further website which wrote “Britain’s Isobel Pooley captured the attention of crowds in Helsinki and not just for her jumping!”

This early taste of the limelight gave me the confidence to hold my head high as a female athlete and enjoy the attention the sport has brought me.

I have been asked on several occasions to deliver inspirational speeches at schools, businesses and other events and therefore have had to consider my ‘look’ for the first time! (usually it’s just a tracksuit and trainers).

Fortunately I have been sponsored by Barbara Cosgrave of Designs for Success who helped to guide me through the complex world of fashion and given me some great advice on how to present myself as a stylish female athlete.

This is especially useful for someone of my height who finds it difficult to find young trendy clothes.

Is a sports modelling career something that interests you?

I would love to be involved with sports modelling as a way of supporting my athletics career and training costs. As an athlete, my body is my tool therefore I take great care to train and nourish it correctly for optimum performance.

Attending Giddy Heights_2My body shape has changed a lot as I have begun to take my nutrition very seriously, losing a lot of weight and I would love to celebrate this achievement.

I am delighted to have been approached by photographers recently and am proud to fly the flag for tall athletic females in both a sporting and fashion context.

What do you concentrate on during training?

In high jump, it’s very important to remain relaxed and to use your individual strengths in an explosive, flowing movement. We focus a lot on movement-patterning, repeating specific drills so that they are firmly ingrained in our subconscious. We also do work in the gym, building explosive strength to use at take-off.

Short sprints also help us to build speed and good running technique for the high jump approach.

How often do you train?

I train 5 days per week. At least two of these will involve a full day (9 til 4) at the track and the others will be a half day. I find that having a set structure and routine helps me to organise my time properly outside of training too.

Do you have a diet?

Since an athlete’s high-jumping ability is closely related to their power to weight ratio, it’s important for jumpers to attain a low body fat percentage while retaining their lean, explosive muscles.

This generally requires a fairly strict diet with close attention to calorie intake and portion sizes.

I had a massive wakeup-call earlier in my career when a coach suggested that I was carrying too much weight, so I took action and took control of my weight and put myself on a strict diet.

I limited my intake of bread, pasta, rice and potatoes, bulked up my meals with plenty of fibrous vegetables and substituted my usual snacks for fresh fruit.

As I started to lose the kilos I wondered why I hadn’t done this sooner!

It was incredibly empowering to realise that I could control my weight, just the same as I could control other factors of my jumping. My performance improved steadily as I got lighter and lighter. Ultimately I shed 12kg and felt amazing for it!

Training sessions felt easier and gravity didn’t hold me down as strongly as it once did and I’ve gone from strength to strength!

Missed part 1? No problem, here it is

Connect with Expert Guy Holland.

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