perfect, says Isinbayeva
IT is the art
of perfection that is carrying Yelena Isinbayeva to new heights.
pole vault of 4.88m brought her another $30,000, a glorious reception from
the sell-out crowd at the National Indoor Arena and a further rewriting of
the world record books.
image is good; the private one is of a woman striving daily, weekly,
monthly, to go beyond what carried her over the bar in front of 8000 people
on Friday night.
indoor season is reaching a climax in Madrid next week at the European
Championships and it would be of little surprise if what Isinbayeva achieved
in England is not repeated in Spain. Not that she expects it, anything but.
Yet, she is clearing new heights because she is pushing herself to new
limits. Nothing is enough. It may never be.
ended with the drama that Isinbayeva brings to the event on regular
occasions. On her second attempt at 4.88m, having established a world record
height of 4.87m six days earlier in Donetsk in Russia, she ensured she is
that bit richer.
It is now 11
world record successes for Isinbayeva, 22, since her first in Gateshead in
2003 and this latest one arrived in the arena where she won her first world
title, in 2003.
But it was
probable that a question on the lips of many who left after a tremendous
night of action at the Norwich Union Grand Prix was: how does she do it?
Part of the
answer arrived in a quiet room at the athlete's hotel, as Isinbayeva
digested another world record. "I will always try
to break more of them," she said. "But
it is not perfect. When I compete, the speed is okay. Sergey Bubka did say
that my technique is perfect, the best he has seen for a woman pole vaulter.
But if I do not have the mistakes, I have the potential to go higher."
self-examination of her achievements are taking this citizen of Volgograd
towards breaking five metres, a barrier that few could have predicted would
be possible within only a decade of women's pole vaulting becoming part of
the mainstream international programme.
who says she has gone over five metres in training, returned from the
Olympic Games in Athens last summer determined that even with a gold medal,
all was not how she would like it.
She said: "During
the winter with my coach I worked on my speed. I have had many mistakes in
my technique. Now I have less than I do on my speed.
am not fast enough. I became a pole vaulter after being a gymnast. I am tall
but I am not as fast as I could be. In training I sprint in repetition
sessions over 30 metres and 60 metres. But my speed is the same. If I can go
faster, I can go even higher. But that is not always going to happen.
do not think I can break the world record every time but this result has
given me the confidence to push for even greater heights. I am not going to
talk about five metres. I do not like to talk about what I have not
She trains on
a six-day rota: two on technique, two on speed and one on gymnastics before
a day's rest.
But it is
ironic that speed is her biggest problem because one of her hobbies outside
of sport is driving fast.
She owns a
BMW X3 - along with the Skoda she won as her world record prize in Donetsk
when she cleared 4.87m with several centimetres to spare - and said: "Once
at an aerodrome in Volgagrad I drove the Mercedes SLK at 200km per hour. It
was a test drive. But I won't be swapping sports."
Isinbayeva is one of the supreme stars of world athletics and carries on
what has become quite a tradition.
It is eight
years next month that women's pole vaulting made its debut at the World
Indoor Championships in Paris, and ever since Stacy
Dragila, the American former rodeo rider, won that first gold medal, the
event has gathered in its momentum.
two years ago, Svetlana
Feofanova, a Russian team-mate of Isinbayeva, broke the indoor world
record when she won the European title with a clearance of 4.75m.
Isinbayeva was in astonishing form last summer. In 2004, she broke the world
record eight times and three of those came in Britain in just over a month,
when she cleared 4.87m in Gateshead in June, 4.89m in Birmingham in July and
then five days later 4.90 metres at Crystal Palace. Fittingly, she won
Olympic gold with 4.91m.
has taken it to another level, amid a rivalry between these Russians that is
compounded with dislike.
said: "We are not friends, we are big rivals. We
do not talk to each other in competitions."
By the time
the serious business began on Friday, Britain's Janine Whitlock, who won the
AAA title five days earlier, was out. She failed to clear her three attempts
at 4.30m and ended the event in sixth place with 4.10m.
cleared her first attempt at 4.45m. Both Isinbayeva and her went over at
4.60m, the opening vault for the Olympic champion.
Feofanova cleared it at the second attempt for a season's best before
failing on three at 4.79m. Isinbayeva cleared that first time before
knocking the bar off in her opening go at 4.88m. Next time, though, there
was no mistake and the cheque was being written.
occasions she has achieved the world record in Britain, four times outdoors
and now once indoors, has brought her $170,000 in
bonuses alone. But it is hard to disagree that Isinbayeva is fantastic value
for money because each performance becomes a history-making occasion.