Elena Isinbaeva of Russia competes in the Women’s Pole Vault Final during day three - WIC Istanbul (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Isinbayeva opens with 4.75m clearance in Sotteville

SottevillelèsRouen, FrancePole Vault star Yelena Isinbayeva opened her 2012 season with a 4.75m clearance in the PoVault at the "Meeting Sotteville-lès-Rouen, the fifth leg of French Pro Athlé Tour.

The Russian, whose last appearance was her win at World Indoor Championships in Istanbul on 11 March, had delayed her outdoor debut in order to lengthen her training prior to the Olympic Games in London. After having cancelled Reims (4 July) on her agenda, she finally chose Sotteville-lès-Rouen in order to sharpen her technique. Obviously nervous about the placement of the position of the vertical supports, she had problems during the entire competition.

"My pole didn’t play in the right way," she explained. "It’s all about small technical things which I’ll have a lot of time to sort out before London!"

She missed her first attempt at 4.70m, a bar that gave second and third places to Holly Bleasdale (GBR) and Anna Rogowska (POL), respectively. The World record holder (5.06m in 2009) then saved her next attempt for 4.75m. The bar stumbled but surprisingly stayed on the pegs. Moving the supports, she never found the right placement to jump 4.85m, which would have been a World Leading mark, 2cm higher than Jenny Suhr (USA) set the previous day.

"I’m so happy that I got the victory, that’s the most important, the good results will come later", said the Russian who competed with a strap around her left quadriceps. "I’m healthy and happy", she insisted, before revealing that her next target is to break the World Leading mark at the Monaco Samsung Diamond League next week, her only other competition before the Games.

LaShawn Merritt, another Olympic champion, easily won the 400m. Tabarie Henry (ISV) in lane 3 was out the fastest as he caught Merritt, on lane 5, at the midway. The American surged after the last bend and was unstoppable in the home stretch. His time, 45.51, was much slower than the 44.12 he ran to win the US Trials a couple of weeks ago.

"I feel good, I came here to run a good race against a strong field", said the winner. "My goal this year is to get my crown back and I know I’ll be ready to run 43 in London."

At 200m, Henry’s teammate Laverne Jones-Ferrette was also the fastest away, but she managed to save 0.02 on the finish line to win the race in 22.67 (+0.9) from American Charonda Williams, 22.69.

Lolo Jones set her season best, 12.74 (w+0.7), over the 100m hurdles, yet was not satisfied. "I’m not really happy with the first part of my race, but I'll take it." She knows that to get a chance to threaten the favorite, Australian Sally Pearson in London (World Leader with 12.40), she will have to beat her own 12.43 personal best she set in semi-final of Beijing Olympics. "In the hurdles, everything can happen!" she said, referring to her fall at the last hurdle in the Beijing final were she had seemingly secured her first place.

Men’s Triple Jump outcome was decided in the sixth round as Cuban Alexis Copello leaped 17.12m, 4cm longer than his Bahamian rival Leevan Sands, 17.08m.

Kim Collins was the quickest to react to the gun (0.138) and no one was able to catch him during the 100m. The 2003 World champion won in 10.11 (w+0.6) from Trinidadian Marc Burns (10.27). "I lost my posture in the last metres", Collins analyzed. "I just have to execute perfectly in order to run 9.9. But I’ll have to open my gear as so many runners have run 9.8 this season!"

Women’s 800m opened very fast as the pacemaker covered the first lap in 58.50, but suddenly the race turned into a tactical one, and Tatyana Markelova displayed the best finish to win in the last 50m with 2:01.07. Adjoke Odumoso easily won the 400m Hurdles in 54.75.

Pierre-Jean Vazel for the IAAF

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