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Pole vault is a family affair for Ryshich

Elizaveta Ryshich of Germany celebrates winning the Pole Vault (Getty Images)Elizaveta Ryshich of Germany celebrates winning the Pole Vault (Getty Images) © Copyright

When Yelena Isinbayeva, 21 years of age, surprised the world and set a more than unexpected Pole Vault world record of 4.82m in Gateshead, England, Elizaveta Ryshich of Germany was on her way to winning the 3rd IAAF World Youth pole vault title in Sherbrooke.

Four years ago in Bydgoszcz, Poland, the inaugural gold medal of the women’s pole vault was won by a certain Yelena Isinbayeva with 4.10m.

“What?” screams Ryshich in German, one of the three languages with English and Russian she speaks, when informed of Isinbayeva’s outstanding performance. “This is fantastic! She is one of my favourites.”

Ryshich who at the tender age of 14 became the youngest ever world youth gold medallist doesn’t need to be reminded that Isinbayeva started her career in these same championships.

“I know! She won 4 years ago and she jumped 4.10m. I jumped 4.05m today and wanted to try 4.11m but my father told me not to.”

Indeed, Ryshich had no motivation but her personal pride to clear that extra height as her third time clearance at 4.05m was good enough for gold today.

Despite her apparent composure, Ryshich didn’t have it that easy as she had two misses at 4.00m and was temporarily out of medal contention. She gambled and passed on her third attempt. She calmly waited for the bar to be raised to 4.05m and cleared it with remarkable ease. The gamble paid off.

“I wasn’t nervous. It’s just that I was having problems with the windy conditions. It wasn’t very easy but I am glad I made it.”

The wind never stopped blowing on Sherbrooke’s University stadium today and even if the conditions weren’t as terrible as two days ago - when the officials were forced to cancel the qualification round resulting in 20 athletes contesting this afternoon’s final - the 20-minute-long heavy showers that dampen the track certainly affected the jumpers.

All the credit goes to Ryshich who entering the competition as the pre-event favourite managed to deal with the pressure of being the youngest and yet the best.

“My main concern was to make sure I would clear at least a height. I was very concentrate on my opening jump because I didn’t want to miss that and go back home with a zero next to my name. Once I cleared that, the rest was just fun.”

Smiling, laughing, juggling between answering questions in German and joking in Russian with Sviatlana Makarevich of Belarus who claimed silver on count back, Ryshich is a charming young woman whose path in the world of athletics was paved before she was even born.

Her father a 4.50-metre pole vaulter and her mother a 1.91-metre high jumper, Ryshich’s older sister, Nastja, won gold at the World Indoor Championships of Maebashi 1999.

“My family is made of pole vaulters,” said Elizaveta who was born on 27 September 1988 in the Siberian town of Omsk and moved to Germany when aged 5. “My sister and I have a wonderful relationship with our father, who is also our coach. My sister was world champion in 1999 and I am world champion today. Isn’t that great?”

Talented, Intelligent and beautiful, Elizaveta Ryshich is a young girl we look forward to seeing again in the future. And who knows what she will be capable of jumping in four years time?