Isinbayeva breaks world indoor pole vault record in Stockholm

Russian pole vault star clears 5.01m to break her own world indoor best

Yelena Isinbayeva (Mark Shearman)

There was a time when it seemed as though Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva would set a world record on a weekly basis. That run ground to a halt in 2009 – the year in which she no-heighted in the World Championships final before taking a self-enforced sabbatical from competition in 2010.

She returned last year but failed to make an impact at the World Championships, finishing sixth. It looked like it could be the beginning of the end of a stellar career.

Undeterred, and unconvinced that the world had seen the best of her talent, Isinbayeva started this year in good form with wins in Volgograd, Bydgoszcz and Liévin, although her season’s best of 4.81m put her at No.3 in the world behind Jenn Suhr and Britain’s Holly Bleasdale. Nevertheless, there were reports of Isinbayeva having some great training sessions over the winter and that she was ready to vault big.

She lived up to that promise tonight in Stockholm at the XL Galan meeting. Up against Bleasdale, the young Briton stole an early lead with first-time clearances at 4.52m and 4.72m. Isinbayeva opened at the latter height, but needed two tries.

The tables turned at the next height, 4.82m, as Isinbayeva sailed clear at the first time of asking while Bleasdale failed three times, having to settle for second place ahead of Cuba’s Yarisley Silva, whose 4.72m equalled the best-ever mark for third place in an indoor competition.

With victory sewn up, Isinbayeva went clear at 4.92m on her third try before raising the bar to 5.01m – and then clearing it on her second attempt.

It is Isinbayeva’s 28th world record (15 outdoors, 13 indoors) and her first world record performance for three years. That is by far the longest gap between any of her records, but shows that she is back to her formidable best and will still be a force in London when she’ll come up against home hope Bleasdale.

This was Isinbayeva’s eighth career clearance at 5.00m, while the next-best vaulter in history – US record-holder Suhr – is still some way short of that at 4.92m.

Isinbayeva was not the only Russian jumper to put on a good show in Stockholm. World champion Anna Chicherova notched up her fifth consecutive two-metre victory, winning the high jump comfortably with 2.00m ahead of Ebba Jungmark and Tia Hellebaut (1.94m).

World champion Kirani James, still just 19, was one of the star performers on the track. The young Grenadian recorded his third sub-46 win of 2012 in taking the men’s 400m in 45.52, more than a second ahead of world indoor champion Chris Brown (46.68).

But while Isinbayeva, Chicherova and James kept their winning streaks in tact, one that came to an end was Adam Kszczot, who was well beaten in the men’s 800m. Young Ethiopian Mohamed Aman won in 1:45.84 from Marcin Lewandowski and Yuriy Borzakovskiy. Britain’s Joe Thomas was fourth, setting his sixth PB in six races with 1:46.33, while Poland’s Kszczot trailed in fifth, clocking 1:47.06 – some way short of his world-leading 1:44.57.

World champion Olga Saladukha is undecided as to whether to contest the World Indoor Championships, but on evidence of her performance in Stockholm tonight, the Ukrainian would surely be a strong contender. After leaping 14.62m in round two, Saladukha extended her lead in the final round with 14.79m to easily beat Cuba’s Yargelis Savigne (14.47m) and Britain’s Yamile Aldama (14.44m), who was just three centimetres shy of her own world indoor masters record.

The men’s 3000m was almost an all-Africa affair. Kenyan junior Isiah Koech vented his frustration over his non-selection for the World Indoors by winning in 7:33.55, beating world bronze medallist Dejene Gebremeskel (7:34.14) and Augustine Choge (7:34.74), who was selected over Koech for the World Indoors.

A highly-anticipated rematch between world leader Liu Xiang and Olympic champion Dayron Robles was very much an anti-climax. Liu was disqualified for a false start, allowing Robles an easy path to victory in a below-par 7.66.

Britain’s JJ Jegede had been hoping to build on his recent victory in Birmingham to attack the tough 8.15m qualifying mark for the World Indoors, but he tore his hamstring in the first round and will miss the rest of the indoor season. It was very close at the top as just one centimetre separated the first three with home favourite Michel Torneus winning with 7.99m ahead of Ignisious Gaisah and Luis Felipe Meliz (both 7.98m).

After setting world-leading marks in the 200m and 300m in recent weeks, Jamaica’s Patricia Hall continued her good form with victory in the 400m in a PB of 51.66. Britain’s Shana Cox won the B race in 53.48.

Btissam Lakhouad was a narrow winner of the women’s 1500m in 4:07.86, just two hundredths ahead of Tizita Bogale. European indoor champion Helen Clitheroe was sixth in 4:09.70.

Elsewhere, Mariya Ryemyen scored a rare defeat over team-mate and European indoor champion Olesya Povh in the 60m, 7.17 to 7.20. Turkey’s Ilham Tanui-Ozbilen won the men’s 1500m in 3:34.88 from Kenya’s Bethwell Birgen (3:35.38).

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