London: Yelena Isinbayeva, the Olympic pole vault champion in Athens and Beijing, says a third gold medal in London would be even more special than her previous triumphs because of the dark times she has experienced in recent years.
The 30-year-old Russian is hoping to make history by becoming the first woman to win three consecutive Olympic track and field titles, having returned to form this year following a slump in fortunes.
At the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, she failed to record a height and left the stadium in tears, while at last year’s worlds in Daegu, South Korea, she finished sixth.
But her decision to return to her childhood coach, Yevgeny Trofimov, reaped an immediate reward when she broke her own world indoor world record in March – the 28th world mark of her career – and then claimed the world indoor title in Istanbul.
“Now I value all my gold medals more than I did before,” said Isinbayeva. “In the past, it was easy to win and to beat world records. But now that I’m getting older, I appreciate them more.
“I had a very difficult time in the past. There was a lot of change in my life and then I came back to my first coach and my previous technique. It was really difficult, so winning in London would be very special for me.”
Among her rivals will Britain’s Holly Bleasdale, whose indoor clearance of 4.87 metres in February was the third highest in the world this year but who has lost to Isinbayeva in all five of their meetings in 2012.
Bleasdale, 20, will have another chance to topple the woman she once idolised when they clash again in Friday night’s Diamond League meeting in Monaco.
She will be joined in the Principality for a final pre-Olympic tune-up by fellow Britons Robbie Grabarz, Chris Tomlinson, Andrew Osagie and Marilyn Okoro.
“Holly is a good pole-vaulter,” said Isinbayeva. “At her age, to jump a height like 4.87m is such a high mark and I won’t be surprised if the British people are supporting her more than myself.
“This is normal because it’s London and she’s going to be their favourite but it’s not a problem. I’m used to competing in countries where the fans are supporting other athletes more than myself.
“She is a young girl and I would say she is part of the next generation for women’s pole-vaulting because after I retire she will he continuing for maybe the next 10 years.”
BDST: 1439 HRS, July 20, 2012
Chanchal Ghosh, Newsroom Editor
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