06 MAR 2004 General News Have you ever seen a five

Women Pole Vault Final

Have you ever seen a fivemetre jump?  Yelena Isinbayeva may well have done it tonight, except that the crossbar was measured at only 4.86.  Still, it was a world record--the third of the year for the 21-year-old Russian--and there was considerable room to spare in her gold-medal jump.  The mystique of the five-metre height was still there for Isinbayeva, and to end the evening, she thrilled the crowd with a reasonable attempt at 5.00. 

"I'm glad to jump 4.86 and to get the record back," she told the audience.  "Now, it's mine [again]."

The gritty duel which resulted tonight in this greatly anticipated event riveted the crowd, to be sure, but the personages were not the ones expected. 

After the tug-of-war over the world record in late February staged by Birmingham silver winner Isinbayeva and her teammate Svetlana Feofanova, the defending world indoor champion, conventional wisdom predicted this to be the probable script for tonight. 

In the end, it was vaulting's pioneering "grande dame", Stacy Dragila, who emerged to push Isinbayeva to the world record, and in so doing, the nearly 33-year-old American scored an national record 4.81 of her own in a silver-medal performance. 

Feofanova started at 4.40 and was error-free through 4.70, at which point she had clinched a medal.  But after a miss at 4.76, she watched Dragila and Isinbayeva succeed.  Her only hope was to jump 4.81, at which she was unsuccessful in her two remaining attempts and only the bronze medal remained. 

Dragila's teammate Jillian Schwartz was also captivated with tonight's atmosphere, as she leaped a personal best 4.60 for the highest-ever fourth-place finish, ahead of the 4.50 of France's Vanessa Boslak (national record) and Monika Pyrek of Poland.