Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia celebrates breaking the Pole Vault World record (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News 12 August 2005 – Helsinki, Finland

5.01m Pole Vault WORLD RECORD - Guess who?

Helsinki, FinlandShe stood on the runway as the clapping started and jigged her left leg. Then her right. She stopped. She waited. She looked to the ground. She said a few words. And then she raised the pole in the air.

The clapping grew in momentum and by the time Yelena Isinbayeva had taken off, the noise was at a crescendo and by the time she had cleared the world record height, she was leaping in the air almost before she hit the ground.

Now, where were we? Was it Athens, Madrid, London, Lausanne. No, this time it was Helsinki and the 10th IAAF World Championships in Athletics but to the greatest woman pole vaulter in history it does not seem to matter.

Pick a venue, name a championship and there is one sure fire certainty it seems these days that the brilliant Russian is going to break the World record. And what is it about Friday's? Did someone in Hollywood once say there were Freaky?

Well, you could make a movie about the life of this supreme athlete and the only person she would be swapping roles with would be Sergei Bubka. Because, in the way that the great Ukrainian dominated the men's pole vault, so she is in command of the women's.

Three weeks ago, on a Friday at the Norwich Union Grand Prix in London, she achieved what many thought was impossible - she cracked the five metres barrier.

But here at the IAAF World Championships, she went a centimetre better than her 5 metres World record, and she did it with much to spare, though slightly brushed it on the way down.

How high can she take it? The way she is jumping now, she can take it as high as she probably wants.

She did not enter the competition until the bar reached 4.50m and she cleared that with so much ease, that you sensed she was in the sort of mood that we have become used to seeing her.

But what makes her stand out, and makes her arguably the biggest woman star in the sport today, is that she brings such panache to her event. She is always smiling on the runway, always appreciating the support of the crowd and always delivering.

A year ago at the Olympic Games, she broke the World record by clearing 4.91m but now she has taken it onto such a different level, that the competition is not between her and her rivals but between her and the bar. And at the moment, the further the bar is climbing, the easier Isinbayeva is going after it.

The event, because of the way Isinbayeva brings so much drama to it, has topped the bill so often, because indoors or out, she has an ability to win gold and break the World record.

But in typical fashion, Isinbayeva thanked all those around her. There is nothing flashy about her. She still drives a Skoda car and has been living with her parents in Volgograd.

She said: "I want to thank my dearest; mother, father and sister and all those who are close and love me. I can only be extremely happy for this performance."

"I'm extremely happy and satisfied with the world record and the gold medal in the World Championships. I was very concerned about the weather this morning. But I am a positive and a smiling person and I'm sure it helps me a lot."

"Today the World record height seemed to be extremely high. It was really difficult to jump at that height. I'm sure I'll be able to clear 5.02m still during this season. Anyhow, Helsinki was my main competition this year and my training was aimed for this competition. Becoming a World Champion was not a dream, but the target.

"I will relax this evening, maybe I'll go to some night club and dance."

Poland's Monika Pyrek took silver with 4.60m while Pavla Hamackova, of the Czech Republic, won bronze with 4.50m. But from 4.70m onwards, there was only one woman in it and few will forget the way she won her first World Championship gold medal.

Samuel Peters for the IAAF