Pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva lands gold in Moscow world championships

Isinbayeva to take a break after being roared on to victory by her home fans and landing her first global outdoor title since 2008 Olympics

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 August, 2013, 11:54am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 August, 2013, 2:45am

Yelena Isinbayeva, the greatest ever woman pole vaulter, thrilled a partisan crowd by securing the third world title of her illustrious career before saying she was taking a break to have a baby.

The record-breaking Russian, twice Olympic champion and the first woman to clear the five-metre barrier, was the only vaulter to jump 4.89 metres, making a winning leap when it mattered most in an enthralled Luzhniki arena.

Her dominance of the sport she took to new heights with 28 world records, 15 outdoor and 13 indoor, has receded in recent years, but a season's best leap was good enough to secure gold.

"I'm the pole vault queen, the crowd is mine," the 31-year-old said. "This victory is the most precious won in all my career."

Isinbayeva, whose last global outdoor title came at the 2008 Olympics, had said she could retire after the championships but, after lengthy celebrations following her victory, said she would step away from the sport temporarily to become a mother.

"I'm not retiring for the moment, I'm just taking a break," she said. "I will have a baby next year and try to come back for the Rio Olympics."

After a nervous start when she failed with her first attempt after entering the competition at 4.65, Isinbayeva grew in stature as she was cheered on by the home crowd.

With a chorus of "Yelena, Yelena" reverberating around the stadium from the biggest crowd of a poorly attended championships, each clearance was greeted by a cacophony of approval.

Isinbayeva rewarded the support with punches in the air and squeals of delight.

One by one her 11 rivals dropped away. First American Olympic champion Jenn Surh, who beat Isinbayeva's world indoor record in March, failed at 4.89, then Cuban Yarisley Silva also failed to get over that height.

With gold assured, Isinbayeva ran to the crowd and embraced her coach and mentor Yefgeny Trofimov, who she split from in 2005 before teaming up with again in 2011.

Milking the moment and urging the crowd to raise the decibel level further, she asked for the bar to be raised to 5.07, one centimetre above the outdoor world record she set in 2009.

Three unsuccessful attempts followed but they could not spoil the former gymnast's exuberant celebrations as she set off for a victory lap of the track which featured cartwheels and a back-flip.

Isinbayeva said she had fed off the energy of the crowd.

"I won because I was at home," she said. "I wanted to leave a bright trace. I want to thank all the fans - their support made it happen."

Isinbayeva was virtually unbeatable between 2003 and 2008, when she kept raising the world record higher and higher, often by a centimetre at a time.

But plagued by injury and poor form and after failing to register a height in the 2009 world championships, she decided to take a break from the sport, returning after an 11-month absence.

She was again outside the medals at the 2011 world championships but took bronze at last year's London Olympics.

"People were saying that Isinbayeva's era was over, that she had run out of gas. I've heard so much about it all - and it was so insulting," Isinbayeva said. "But on the other hand, it urged me on."

She credited Trofimov with resurrecting her career.

"He resuscitated me. It's all thanks to him," she said. "He is a genius, he helped me get my world title back."

The white-haired and moustachioed Trofimov, it seems, will count down the minutes until her return. "There is this Italian composer Francesco Sartori, he composed a wonderful piece - Time To Say Goodbye. But the time to say farewell has not yet come," he said.