POSTED: April 30th 2009

Isinbayeva aims higher still

Olympic champion Yelena Isinbayeva: seeking to apply more citius and fortius in pursuit of greater altius /
Olympic champion Yelena Isinbayeva: seeking to apply more citius and fortius in pursuit of greater altius /

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

MILAN: Yelena Isibayeva believes she can extend her world pole vault record to greater levels – as long as her fans get behind her.

Isinbayeva told the congress of AIPS (the international sportswriters’ association) that she and her coaches had worked during the winter on improving her technique. That may sound intimidating for the Russian’s rivals who finished behind her in pursuit of gold at the Beijing Olympics last year and in the world championship.

She said: “Now I understand the technique of pole vaulting better my results should get better and better just as they do all the time in training. My coach [Vitali Petrov] says he is almost afraid of how high I could jump.

“I would like to retire having reached a height which no one will be able to beat for another 100 years.”

Isinbayeva, AIPS' Woman Athlete of the Year for 2008,  has worked to eradicate mistakes in both take-off and landing and was looking forward to taking her improved style this year into the world championships in Berlin, the Golden League, the Grand Prix Final and then the Golden Grand Prix in Shanghai.

She said: “My objective is to defend my world championship title, to succeed in the Golden League and set as many records as I can – because I still want more.

“I like to be first. I don’t feel any pressure from that. I like to feel like the captain on a ship with everyone following me. I could not accept being second because that’s not my place. It’s ‘normal’ for me to be first.”

Part of Isinbayeva’s motivation stems from a burning memory of her last defeat, in Paris in 2003.


She said: “I went there as favourite and because I arrived there feeling too confident. I cried all night afterwards. I don’t ever want that feeling again. Even if I’m dominating a competition now I never relax until it’s finished.”

Certainly Isinbayeva does not lack confidence in expecting to improve her records and performance. Sergei Bubka, fellow Russian and former Olympic champion, said he believed that improving take-off technique could be worth another 30cm to her.

Isinbayeva added: “I don’t want to finish where I am now. I want to feel I have reached my limit, wherever that may be. It’s important for me when I go into a stadium that the public gets behind, pays attention to me. That motivates to achieve great results.”

She and Bubka did not agree, however, on the issue of personal appearance and its value in the promotion of a sport, as Isinbayeva saw it, in promotion of sport for women.

Isinbayeva, one of world sport’s pin-up girls, said: “If people see a beautiful woman they will follow her and thus also our sport. If a woman athlete is successful but ugly no-one will pay attention to her. Girls must bring beauty to sport for the sake of the sport – that’s why I always try to look my best in the stadium.”

Bubka disagreed, saying: “The priority should always be results. After that you can worry about image.”

Isinbayeva responded: “This is a woman’s issue.”

Keywords · Isinbayeva · AIPS · 2008 Olympic Games

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