Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia, the hottest favourite at these championships, duly took gold with a, for her, modest 4.80m, with Anna Rogowska of Poland taking silver and a returning Svetlana Feofanova bronze. The expected World Indoor attempt of 4.93 fizzled out, though, as Isinbayeva failed to take advantage of only having taken three jumps to secure the title.
“I expected to jump a few centimetres higher,” said the silver medallist. “My preparation has been hindered by a problem with the Achilles in my left foot for a month and a half.”
The Russian World and Olympic champion applied the pressure even before she jumped. As soon as the stadium announcer explained she would be entering at a height of 4.60, her rivals must have felt they were jumping for silver.
But they still had to go through the motions and Feofanova, Rogowska and Monika Pyrek all cleared a loosener at 4.40. At 4.50 Spain’s Naroa Agirre equalled yesterday’s national record, but found 4.55 too much for her. But the Spaniard can go away secure in the knowledge that she has established herself at the new height.
Feofanova passed at 4.55, Rogowska went over cleanly, but Pyrek needed two attempts. At 4.60, Isinbayeva finally made her grand entry, sailed over and had one hand on the gold. Now it was Feofanova’s turn, but the former World record holder and World champion indoors and out looked sluggish as she clipped the bar. After some reflection, though, she came back and put clear daylight between her and the bar to move temporarily into second.
Rogowska, Pyrek and Vanessa Boslak of France opted to pass at 4.60, but as both poles cleared at 4.65, momentarily Rogowska was in gold, Pyrek silver and when Boslak went over for a new French record, Isinbayeva was out of the medals.
It was illusory of course. Isinbayeva passed 4.70, content to let the others wear themselves out in a quest for the minor medals. Pyrek failed in her first attempt, but then Feofanova sailed over and for the first time a broad smile creased her features. She was in the lead with a season’s best and, with the Poles and Boslak failing, was in gold.
Then Rogowska went over and she was in silver while Pyrek and Boslak trailed in third and fourth. First Pyrek went out at 4.70, followed by the French record holder. With Isinbayeva yet to return to the fray, Pyrek was out of the medals.
As Feofanova failed twice at 5.75, Rogowska snatched the initiative away for silver with a second-time clearance, but failed three times at a new Polish record of 4.85. Then the stage was set for the gold medallist to take centre stage.
“My World record attempts were not consistent today,” said Isinbayeva, “but I wanted to treat the crowd with a record. I dedicate victory to Russian crowd and my parent’s who are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary this year.”