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Feature11 Mar 2012

Isinbayeva after fourth World Indoor title: 'Today I understand better what I achieved in the past'


Elena Isinbaeva of Russia celebrates as she wins gold in the Women’s Pole Vault Final during day three - WIC Istanbul (© Getty Images)

Isanbul, TurkeyIf you were to break down the actual amount of on-track effort it took to claim a World title at these 14th IAAF World Indoor Championships, Yelena Isinbayeva would certainly take the top prize.

It took the 29-year-old Russian superstar just two jumps to clinch her fourth World indoor title, one that just might mean more to the World record holder than any of the other three.

It came on the heels of a season where many were writing off the woman who had set 27 World records in the event prior to this season, who was forced by physical and mental exhaustion to take nearly a year off from competition in 2010, and who could finish no better than sixth at last year's World Championships in Daegu.

But 2012 has been different for the two-time defending Olympic champion, whose fourth victory in as many competitions this season prior to Istanbul doubled as her 28th career World record - 15 outdoors, 13 indoors - when she topped 5.01 in Stockholm on 23 February. Isinbayeva appears to really be back.

"I was waiting for this victory like a mother is waiting to give birth to her baby," Isinbayeva said after her 4.80m victory at the Atakoy Arena. "It was very important for me. The last three years showed me how important it is for me to win. I am so happy as if it was the first time."

That waiting game was accentuated by a lengthy copetition, one that was already underway for two hours before Isinbayeva entered the fray.

This year the event featured a straight final, with 16 jumpers entered when the competition began at 4.30m. The field was whittled to nine when the bar was raised to 4.65m, but the medals were already decided at 4.70m. That was also the height at which Isinbayeva entered the competition with a routine and massive clearance, one the stadium announcer accurately described as a "promising start".

Up to that point, the best form was displayed by Vanessa Boslak, who cleared each of her initial five heights - from 4.30m to 4.70m - on her first attempt. The latter was a five centimeter improvement on her own national record set six years ago, and equalled her outdoor best.

Briton Holly Bleasdale, this year's breakout star and just 20 years old, was still alive as well after sailing clear at 4.70 on her second try.

But it was the highest either would go.

After skipping 4.75m, Isinbayeva clinched her fourth World indoor gold with another massive clearance, this time at 4.80m.

She then decided to waste no more time and immediately had the bar raised to 5.02m, a centimetre higher her most recent World record. Her first attempt was close enough to show the height was certainly within reach. Her second was sold but not as close; her third another solid attempt but again a bit off the mark. Even the old Isinbayeva, despite popular opinion, didn't quite possess the ability to produce World records on demand.

"I am not really surprised that I only needed to attempts, two jumps to win. My shape looks great. I am confident that I am in a great shape. I feel great."

"Today I understand better what I achieved in the past, how great this was and is."

Germany’s Silke Spiegelburg of Germany and Lacy Janson of the U.S. topped 4.65m finishing fourth and fifth respectively. Nicole Buchler, who finished eighth,  cleared 4.55m a new national record for Switzerland.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF

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