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Indomitable Isinbayeva does it again

By Agence France-Presse in Moscow | China Daily | Updated: 2013-08-15 08:02

 Indomitable Isinbayeva does it again

Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva reacts after clearing the bar to win the pole vault final at the IAAF World Athletics Championships at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Tuesday. Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

Russian pole vaulter cooly rockets to 3rd world title in front of home crowd

Russian Yelena Isinbayeva cemented her place in the pantheon of track and field greats by winning a third world pole vault title on home soil at the world athletics championships on Tuesday.

It was a first global title for the 31-year-old two-time Olympic champion since she won at the Beijing Games in 2008, and made a mockery of suggestions her powers are waning and retirement beckons.

Isinbayeva completely dominated the event in the run up to the 2008 Olympics, breaking the world record an incredible 28 times (13 indoor and 15 outdoor) as she revolutionized the event.

But she finished sixth at her last outing at the worlds, in Daegu two years ago. On home soil and in front of an expectant crowd at Luzhniki Stadium, there could be only one Isinbayeva who turned up.

"It was the best ever support," said Isinbayeva, who confirmed she would be taking 18 months off to have a baby, with the goal of making a comeback at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

"I felt like I was at home, that everyone was behind me. I absorbed that and it resulted in a gold. The support was just colossal."

Indomitable Isinbayeva does it again

The world record holder with a massive 5.06m set in 2009, but bronze medalist at the London Olympics, came into the competition at 4.65m.

Amid roars from the largest crowd yet at these championships, Isinbayeva needed two attempts to clear that height, but a cool vault over 4.75m and suddenly all the pressure was on American Olympic champion Jennifer Suhr, who entered at 4.55m.

Vaulting after Isinbayeva, the tension was palpable in the stadium and despite seeming to slip across the face of the bar, Suhr muscled her way over to land 4.75m.

Germany's Silke Spiegelburg, fourth at the London Games, joined the party with an equally comfortable vault over the same height, followed by Cuba's Yarisley Silva.

Brazil's defending world champion Fabiana Murer, however, flunked three efforts at 4.75m to bow out of the competition, along with Russian Anastasia Savchenko.

Isinbayeva was next up and botched her first effort at 4.82m. But she nailed her second, promptly matched by Suhr. Spiegelburg then crashed out before Silva cleared.

The bar was raised to 4.89m and Isinbayeva did not disappoint, the crowd reacting in a way not even afforded to normal star attraction, Jamaican sprint sensation Usain Bolt, when he won the 100m on Sunday.

Rushing after her, Suhr, her black hair held back by a sparkly red band, looked labored and this time the cries from the crowd were in reaction to the American's failure.

Suhr's second and third attempts were also botched, after which television cameras panned on a grinning Isinbayeva cheekily giving the thumbs-up as the field cut to two.

Indomitable Isinbayeva does it again

"It was a great night for the spectators and one of the best competitions I've ever been involved in," said Suhr.

"I'm very happy for Yelena because she managed to please the home crowd. "She really raised the standard of this event."

Silva then also failed to clear the height, handing Isinbayeva victory and Suhr the silver on countback.

Ramping the bar to 5.07m, 1cm higher than her world record, Isinbayeva had her hero, Sergey Bubka, rushing down from the stands.

The Ukrainian, a six-time world champion, has long followed the career of the Russian former gymnast and this week expressed his desire to see Isinbayeva bow out on a winning note.

The ever-fickle Isinbayeva had reacted by casting doubt over whether she would indeed retire after this season.

Hurtling down the runway, she went closer on her second effort at 5.07, the knee of her lead left leg clipping the bar.

The third attempt was also a failure, but that did not dampen the delirium that followed.

Isinbayeva draped herself in a Russian flag and rushed to hug coach Evgeniy Trofimov and the event mascot before performing some gymnastic moves down the runway, much to the delight of the raucous partisan crowd.

(China Daily 08/15/2013 page24)

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