It’s amazing what coming clean can do for a person’s peace of mind.
Just 24 hours after admitting to the world that her shock failure at the World championships was due to nothing more than complacency on her part, Yelena Isinbayeva changed course. Following the advice she charted for herself to bounce back from her Berlin breakdown, Isinbayeva returned to the track tonight at the Weltklasse Zürich - ÅF Golden League to do what she has already done 26 times before: set yet another World record.
“I feel awesome, I feel great!” a beaming Isinbayeva said after raising her own record to 5.06m*. It was her 15th record outdoors, adding a centimetre to the mark which brought her a second Olympic title in Beijing last year.
It also came after her dramatic no-height at the World championships, perhaps the biggest single implosion of the championships. Certainly Isinbayeva characterized it as such yesterday, when she admitted that while her body may have been in Berlin, her head clearly wasn’t. Which made her record her tonight all the more special.
“It’s really unbelievable to set a World record after such a big defeat in Berlin,” Isinbayeva said. “But I’m happy with that defeat now. It made me more hungry. And maybe I wouldn’t have beat the World record.”
“And after that defeat I recognised that it’s really important for me to concentrate on the win, and then to set World records. Before I maybe felt that victories weren’t that important for me. But now, today, I changed my mind. I was happy for the victory.”
The victory was indeed important, keeping her alive in the chase for the $1 million ÅF Golden League Jackpot, along with World champions Sanya Richards of the USA and Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia. The win was sealed early enough, coming with just her second jump of the competition. Opening with a first attempt clearance at 4.71m, she sailed over 4.81 with her first as well, which was too high for Anna Rogowska, the Pole who tool best advantage of Isinbayeva’s meltdown in Berlin to take the World title.
Her record came with her next leap, a confident, hefty and elegant clearance which showed that the old Isinbayeva, albeit a new, improved and more mature version, was back.
“I felt great! It was crazy when I cleared it,” she said. “I thought to myself, ‘That felt so easy.’ It seems like I should do what I did today in every competition.”
Again, recalling the conversation she had with journalists yesterday, Isinbayeva said that her experience in Berlin “Was just a problem with myself. It was necessary to be defeated in Berlin,” she said, to force a change in her thinking and in her attitude. “And to see my sport from another side, and not from the top. So this was very useful for me.”
“The main problem is in the head, in my concentration,” Isinbayeva said. “And today I was concentrating 100 percent.”
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF
*pending the usual ratification precedures