BILLINGE athlete Harry Coppell believes he can build on his Olympic Pole Vault final performance for the next games in Paris.

The 25-year-old Wigan Harrier cleared 5.80m to finish in an impressive seventh place in Tokyo.

With his perrmance and experience of the tournament still sinking in, he is now targeting a medal in 2024.

Coppell said: “It was just an unreal experience. It’s still sinking in, and to come out with a seventh-place finish is unreal.

“Part of me is a little bit gutted because I had a really good attempt at 5.87m and that would have really put me in the fight for the medals, but for my first Games this is amazing. We can build from here.

“We’ve changed a lot going into this year and it’s going to take time to get them right.

“I can’t wait to see how things progress going forward.”

Gold went to Sweden’s Armand Duplantis (6.02m), silver was won by USA’s Christopher Nilson (5.97m) and Thiago Braz of Brazil took bronze on 5.87m.

“Of course we were all missing Sam [Kendricks], but the field was unreal. It’s just been a brilliant competition to be a part of and I can’t believe I managed to get that position,” he said.

In what has been a tough year for the athletes, with the Games postponed, Coppell draws out the positives from the experience of his first Olympics.

St Helens Star:

“It’s not been an easy build-up to the Games. To be in really good shape last year and then the Games being postponed, having to train again for another year – it was tough to get through,” he said.

“In the same light it gave me opportunities to change my run, change my poles, so without the extra year I may never have made the final.

“It was a long and annoying journey, but I’m very grateful for it.

“I’ve done a great job of finding a way to create an atmosphere in a stadium, even in qualifying when there was nobody there. It’s still been pretty special, but I really hope they get another major championships back here so we can experience this stadium full.”

He now turns his thoughts heading towards the next Olympics in Paris where he will be targeting the podium.

St Helens Star:

“I think physically and in lots of other ways as an athlete I’m still quite young.

“I only moved into a professional set-up just short of two years ago, so I think I’m definitely growing in experience and building every year.

“If we get a few things right I see no reason why I can’t be fighting for a medal in Paris.”