For Russian pole-vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, this was her second Olympic gold. She got her first one in Athens four years ago. Here in Beijing, there was another world record for her, 5 metres and 5 centimetres, her 24th in all. The silver went to American Jennifer Stuchynski, and the bronze to yet another Russian girl, Svetlana Feofanova. No one among the women in this world jumps so high as Yelena Isinbayeva. For several years now, she has been fighting a duel against the height bar alone, leaving her rivals to stand and stare. American Jennifer Stachinski said before the games she is going to put up a serious challenge to Yelena. But that’s as far as it went. She only cleared a height of 4 meters and 80 centimetres.
To produce her record-breaking flight over the bar, Isinbayeva had to make three attempts. The last one worked. “This gold medal and world record are a present for my mother”, said Yelena after overcoming the Olympian height. “Of course, I wanted to do it right at the start, with the first attempts. That would’ve been even prettier. But, with the third, it was also alright. There was the suspense. I want to thank the Russian fans for their support. There were lots of Russian flags. ‘Come on, Lena! Come on!’ I heard. And when the height of 5 meters and 5 centimetres was announced everyone was shouting, ‘Lena, we believed you could do it!’ I had goose bumps on my skin. I’m very happy I have 24 world records to my name. I wouldn’t have been nearly so happy if I’d won, but without getting a new record”, Yelena said. She’s also glad her period of self-isolation is over. She spent most of the days before the event in her room at the Olympic village. When she went out, she wore a baseball cap pulled down over her eyes, covered with dark glasses. She tried not to notice anyone, and not to be noticed. “I had to concentrate and didn’t want to be disturbed”, she said. Her greatest ambition is to beat the total of legendary Russian pole-vaulter Sergei Bubka’s list of 35 world records. “There are four years left until the London Olympics, so, I’ve a chance of doing that”, she added.
19 August 2008
Voice of Russia World Service