Pole Vault queen Yelena Isinbayeva has often described her 2009 season as “up and down”. Her contest tonight at the Kaftanzoglio stadium here in Thessaloniki was an almost perfect confirmation of her statement.
The 27-year-old Russian did indeed win her fifth - out of seven editions - World Athletics Final but her clearances were far from impressive. One can hardly remember the last time Isinbayeva was seen celebrating a 4.80 clearance like it was a new World record!
Yet the Queen of the Pole Vault was back on top of the podium tonight and that was all that mattered.
“This victory was like a revenge after my defeat in Berlin,” she explained. “I had my ups and downs during the season, so I am very happy with today’s win. I still think that a 5.20m jump in reachable.”
One of three winners of this year $1 million Golden League Jackpot, Isinbayeva used her traditional tactics and entered the competition at 4.60, a height at which World silver medallist Chelsea Johnson and two others had already been eliminated.
Like in Berlin, she failed. And one can only imagine how the disappointment from the World Championships must have replayed in her head.
Like in Berlin, she passed. Meanwhile World champion Anna Rogowska and one other also bowed out.
The Berlin script finally differed as the bar was raised to 4.70 and Isinbayeva cleared, although only just. At that height joint World silver medallist Monika Pyrek and Fabiana Murer failed three times. The Polish and the Brazilian were tied for second.
Although the win was secure for Isinbayeva who, except for the inaugural edition of the WAF back in 2003 when she finished fifth and last year’s edition in Stuttgart where she did not compete due to a stomach bug, has won all other World Athletics Finals, she decided she should continue and asked for the bar to be raised at 4.80.
After two misses, it took Isinbayeva all her energy and determination to make sure the bar would stay up. She made it but it wasn’t as supreme as when she set a 5.06 World record two weeks ago in Zurich.
Again, Isinbayeva felt as though she should give more back to the crowd and like a true champion she asked for the bar to be raised at a would-be World record 5.07. It wasn’t going to be, Isinbayeva had already given it all.
The season is yet to be concluded for the 2008 World Athlete of the Year who now embarks on an Asian trip with stops in Shanghai and Daegu.
Isinbayeva’s rise to stardom had started with her first major global title at the Athens Olympic Games and the Monaco-based hasn’t forgotten…”Greek supporters love me and I love them too,” she concluded.
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF