WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
One of track and field’s biggest stars, Yelena Isinbayeva, looks to make her final Olympic appearance a memorable one. Isinbayeva heads to the London games with a boosted motivation after her gold medal at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul and with regained fighting spirit
Yelena Isinbayeva looks to winning her third straight Olympic medal in London to complete a record that was achieved by any male or female pole vaulter in history. Isinbayeva says she will quit the sport after the World Championships next year. REUTERS photo
Russia’s pole vault world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva is confident of soaring to new heights at the Olympics after suffering a series of setbacks in the last three seasons.
Isinbayeva heads to London boosted by gold in the 2012 World Indoor Championships and happy she has regained her fighting spirit after the 2009-2011 seasons were blighted by the rare but bitter taste of defeat.
Reunited with her childhood coach Yevgeny Trofimov - a man who she affectionately calls her second father - Isinbayeva believes she has recovered the form that made her unbeatable up to 2008.
“I can say that I’ve regained that joyful feeling being in flight over the bar,” the double Olympic champion said.
“Now I just love everything that I’m doing and I really appreciate every minute which I spend in training and competition.”
Accustomed to being the unchallenged queen of her event, Isinbayeva failed to record a height in a tear-stained 2009 World Championships in Berlin, came fourth in the 2010 world indoors and just sixth in the 2011 Worlds in Daegu, South Korea.
But Isinbayeva said that she was not afraid of the competition at the Olympics, saying if she comes into the Games in top form nobody can stop her.
“If I manage to keep my form and avoid injuries there’ll be no rival for me in London except myself,” she said. The 30-year-old Volgograd-born pole vaulter added that the recent winter athletics season confirmed that she and coach Trofimov have chosen the right way to prepare for the Olympics.
“I managed to earn a perfect record this winter winning all five tournaments where I competed and set a new indoor world record. It’s a very good result for the winter season,” she said.
“I believe it’s a clear sign that together with my coach we’ve chosen the right direction and I’m really happy that our joint work paid off.” Isinbayeva started her sporting career as gymnast in Volgograd but she had to change sports at the age of 15 because she was considered too tall to be competitive in gymnastics.
Isinbayeva, who holds both the world outdoor record of 5.06m and indoor mark of 5.01m, also said that she almost restored her technique of the 2005-06 period which she and her coach considered to be the best in her career.
“I’m really close to it. Now my technique is completely different and much closer to perfection than what I was showing in those five years,” she said.
“Now I’m not just jumping over the bar but flying over it again. And I hope I’ll be able to fly really high.” Isinbayeva, who parted her ways with her first coach Trofimov in 2005 to join Vitaly Petrov, the coach of legendary Sergei Bubka, said that the move was a mistake as it ended a complete fiasco at consecutive major events.
She added that the decision to reunite with Trofimov in 2011 was the key to her comeback.
“I made a mistake when I parted with Yevgeny. But luckily I corrected that mistake and it was the best ever decision in my life as he is my coach, my friend and maybe even my second father.” “I believe now I can see my previous achievements in proper perspective and every new victory makes me much more happy than it was in the previous years.” Isinbayeva, who has set 28 world records during her career so far, added that she was still dreaming of beating Bubka’s achievement of 35 world records before her retirement.
“It was my main target since the very beginning of my career to make it 36 records. It’s still in my mind and I believe I can achieve it.” Meanwhile, she confirmed her firm intention to retire after the 2013 athletics world championships in Moscow.
“I will quit after the Moscow worlds. It’s the right time to quit when you’re 31,” she said. “Besides, I decided to retire at my peak. For the moment every competition is a great occasion for me but it becomes more and more hard to train day-in, day-out.”