When Isobel Pooley thinks back to 2012 she’s struck by agony, ecstasy, loneliness and expectation all rolled into one – however the overriding feeling ahead of a busy summer in 2013 is optimism.
The 20-year-old high jumper took in 19 competitions in a bid to earn a place at the London 2012 Olympics but, despite setting a new personal best of 1.90m, she was to miss out by two centimetres.
Of those 19 events, there was a high for Pooley as she made her senior British debut at the European Championships, for which she qualified by jumping 1.90m, however she was to fare poorly.
Pooley jumped just 1.78m to come and go in qualifying but took herself off to watch the Olympics and reflects on the experience positively as she now plots a path to not missing out on Rio in 2016.
A senior British debut has allowed Pooley to target August’s World Championships in Moscow, and the European Under-23 Championships a month before, and she’s confident she can make a mark.
“Last year was the most ridiculous year, I can’t even begin to describe what it was like,” said Pooley – who studies at the University of Nottingham.
“I moved away from home to university, changed coach and felt pressure to raise my game to that level with all the Olympians that circulate around Loughborough.
“At the same time it was quite difficult and I felt quite alone at points. In trying to qualify for the Olympics I actually jumped a new personal best which qualified me for the Europeans.
“That wasn’t really on many people’s radar because of the Olympics which overshadowed it but I had never competed at a senior level like that before so for me personally it was huge.
“I still went to watch the Olympics but from a detached and protected perspective. Because I am so young if I had competed and it hadn’t gone well think about how distressing that could have been?
“But as it was I could experience the highs and lows and in Rio in 2016 I am going to be ready and lapping it up and out on the track where I should be.
“I have the European under-23s this summer and I am hoping for a top-eight, top-five finish there and I will target selection for the World Championships off the back of that.”
Pooley was second to only Olympic heptathlon champion Jess Ennis in the British high jump rankings last year and even then just one centimetre separated the two.
She has jumped just once this year to win the Midland Counties Open with an effort 1.82m back in January and Pooley is confident she will be better still when she heads outdoors.
“I would have loved to have qualified for the Olympics but I still learnt so many things as well as competing at the Europeans,” she added.
“The qualification process taught me a lot. Last year for me was more like a transition year, raising my game onto a senior level.”
© Sportsbeat 2013