Former GB athlete Bradshaw leads by example at Stratford College

Paul Bradshaw and his wife, Olympian pole-vaulter Holly and students Lucy Western and Louis Yeomans.

SPORT students at Stratford-upon-Avon College are realising their full potential with the help of a world class athlete.

Sport lecturer Paul Bradshaw, an 800m runner who has represented both England and Great Britain, joined the college staff last September and has already made a big impact on his students. Bradshaw took up athletics at the age of 15 and joined his local athletics club.

He initially took part in the 100m and the javelin, but switched to the 800m on the advice of his coach, Arthur Roland, who had spotted where his true talent lay.

He joined Blackburn Harriers, his local club in Lancashire, and quickly progressed to county level.

At university, he continued to compete, winning the British University Championships in 2009, while he was also selected for Team GB at the European Championships in Lithuania.

“I’d say the highlights of my career were 2007-2012,” said Bradshaw, whose wife Holly is a GB pole-vaulter poised for the forthcoming Olympics in Rio.

“That was a very successful five years, competing on the European circuit as well as in America.

“It was great to travel all over the world, racing and making a living doing what I love.” He describes himself as “a pure 800-metre runner”, with his personal best standing at 1 minute 47.3 seconds.

Bradshaw’s teaching career began in 2009, with a brief interlude when, in 2013, he decided to resume his athletics career.

He moved to America and competed with the World Athletics Centre, and ran for England in Vienna during the Multinational Games.

He brings to his role of lecturer years of first-hand experience, enabling to pass on advice to his students.

Bradshaw added: “When I tell them about the actual mechanics behind the profession, they’re like sponges. They love to hear about it. It’s really pleasing to be able to bring this experience to the college.

“I’ve got a reputation as a strict teacher. When I was competing, I got so used to trying to win that I always expect that of my students.

“My standards never drop. My students soon got the message and they’ve come a long way. I’m really proud of them.”

Bradshaw says his proudest moment was being chosen to be part of the Great Britain team.

“Wearing my first Great Britain vest meant so much to me,” he said.

“When you first put on your Team GB kit — I can tell you that’s a pretty good feeling.”

Today, he gains great satisfaction from watching his students excel.

He added: “Seeing students doing well is a great replacement for winning a race.

“When you cross the finish line it’s all because of your hard work and you get to experience the adrenalin rush that comes with that.

“Teaching is a great substitute though — especially when I get to work with students who succeed beyond their expectations.”