YELENA ISANBAYEVA - POLE VAULT
SOME people thrive on competition, some people crumble. Yelena Isinbayeva definitely falls into the former category. In one of the most fiercely contested field events in world athletics this year, the Russian has been setting new heights. And then some more.
The 22-year-old recently broke the women’s world pole vault record three times in five weeks, clearing 4.90m to better her previous best of 4.89m and reinforce her presence at the top of the rankings. It is a height she claims to regularly clear in training and there is no reason to believe otherwise.
It was the former gymnast’s seventh world record in total, it also gave her the upper hand in her ongoing battle with countrywoman Svetlana Feofanova, who has set ten world records over the past two years. In pushing each other to the limits, they have edged away from reigning Olympic champion, the once indomitable Stacy Dragila, of the United States.
As well as picking up $70,000 for her latest improvement, Isinbayeva has underlined her status by progressing through competitions without missing a vault and the current World Indoor Champion has now been installed as favourite for Athens.
Even Sergey Bubka, the Ukrainian who retired after 35 world records, has given the Volgograd athlete a glowing testimonial and been offering advice. "He has spoken to me and he says I can jump much higher, that technically I am the best vaulter in the world."
A willing student and a talented athlete, it seems the only way is up, and up, and up.
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