American Jennifer Suhr spoiled the script by winning gold in the women’s pole vault at the Olympic stadium on Monday and denying Yelena Isinbayeva her third successive title.
world record holder in Beijing four years ago, cleared 4.75 for victory on a damp, breezy conditions that made vaulting tricky.
“To have someone so good in the field and come out on top it really is an honour and it is a special title in that situation,” an emotional Suhr told reporters.
Cuba’s Yarisley Silva took the silver with the same height on countback after missing the first attempt at her opening height of 4.45 and Isinbayeva had to settle for bronze with a best of 4.70.
The 30-year-old had set world records in her previous Olympic finals but she lacked authority in the breezy, rain-affected event, failing the first attempt at her opening height of 4.55.
Isinbayeva then opted to go straight to 4.65 and when she sailed over the bar, the relief was clear on her face.
The former world champion, who told reporters her build-up to the Games had been disrupted in May by a torn thigh muscle put her result down to bad luck.
“It is unbelievable. Many girls did not make any qualification height. So it was completely terrible weather for pole vaulters. It was terrible.
“I knew the results were not going to be so high here. To win was the lucky girl. So tonight I was just unlucky.”
After Isinbayeva hit the crash mat for the last time having knocked the bar off with her thigh, she got up with a big smile on her face, waved to the crowd and blew a kiss to the camera.
When asked how disappointed she was with her performance Isinbayeva shouted: “What? I’m, so happy that I won the bronze medal.”
Suhr, who is coached by her husband Rick, coped better with the conditions and piled on the pressure, needing just one vault at each of her heights until 4.75 which she cleared second time.
The former basketball player failed all her attempts at 4.80 and then had a nervous wait while Silva made one final vault at the height before being able to celebrate the gold.
The three medal winners walked around the track together draped in their national flags.
“Before I went out there (Rick) said ‘you are going to win this’, he has never said that,” Suhr said.
“I have competed hundreds of times and he has never said ‘you are going to win’ and I was like that is not something he says and it just put that extra spunk that I could do this. Someone else believes in me that much.”
Isinbayeva may put retirement plans on hold
LONDON - Reuters
Pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva said that she had postponed plans to retire as she finished with Olympic bronze.
“If I thought I was going home with the bronze, I might not have come. I’m always fighting for the gold,” Isinbayeva said. “But the bronze medal is very tasteful,” beamed the Volgograd-born vaulter, who has long dominated the event and whose lissom looks have combined with her ability to make her as one of the most recognizable faces of global athletics.
“This bronze medal is like a gold, because in the past three years from Beijing through to London, I have had a lot of difficulties to face,” she said.
The Russian, who was also a world champion in 2005 and 2007, said a troubled and injury-hampered season had led her to consider her future.
“My plan was to get gold and retire after London. But I’m not going to retire with a bronze.
“I’ll think about Rio (Olympics in 2016), get my gold medal and then retire.”
Isinbayeva said she hoped to bounce back in the world championships in Moscow next year.
“That’s very important for Russia
because it’s the first time it’s the host,” Isinbayeva said. “Of course, I’ll participate and will try to get the gold medal.” But she warned that her decision on her future was not set in stone.”