Pole vault queen eyes more than Olympic gold

July 31st, 2008 - 5:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, July 31 (Xinhua) If there is any athlete going with the tag of unrivalled gold medallists in the Beijing Olympics, Yelena Isinbayeva has to be one of them. The Russian pole vaulter just cleared 5.04 metres Tuesday night in Monaco, setting the women’s outdoor world record, her 23rd one.

The 26-year-old athlete created the previous world record of 5.03 metres on July 11 in Rome, Italy. After the last fixture of the IAAF Grand Prix Tour, Isinbayeva will head for Beijing for her second Olympic gold, and probably the 24th world record.

Nobody but one might pose any threat to the Olympic gold medallist, world champion and European champion. Jennifer Stuczynski of the United States was the second female highest jumper of all time with 4.92 metres. Nursing her back injury, the American national record holder pulled out of the women’s pole vault of the Super Grand Prix in Monaco.

“I will be happy with doing my personal best,” Isinbayeva said on the IAAF website, referring to the world record to her personal best.

Besides the Russian favourite, many elite athletes were telling about their great shape in days leading to the Beijing Olympics, from August 8 to 24.

Former world record holder for the men’s 100 metres Asafa Powell picked up his speed again after missing several meets due to injuries, blistering 9.82 seconds in the Monaco Grand Prix.

Although clocking the third fastest time of this year, Powell said he still had a lot to improve. “Going into Beijing, I feel very good and very fresh,” the 25-year-old Jamaican said. “I’m working on bettering 9.74 seconds (the former world record and his personal best).”

Last week in Stockholm, Sweden, Powell beat his countryman Usain Bolt, who grabbed the world record from Powell by two hundredths of a second in May in New York.

Although either of their results in 9.88 to 9.89 seconds, respectively, was good enough to win a Beijing Olympic gold, the first four places in the Stockholm dash were all occupied by Jamaican sprinters, which evidently show the Jamaicans a formidable fleet to challenge the U.S. sprint squad in the men’s 4×100 metres relay as well as the 16-year-old world record in 37.40 seconds, which was held by the U.S. team.

Both Powell and Bolt are hopes of Jamaica in the coming Olympics. They are going to contest with American Tyson Gay, the world champion who ran a wind-aided time of 9.68 seconds lately, and the Athens Olympic silver medallist Francis Obikwelu of Portugal.

The list of athletes who created the season’s bests was still on. Portuguese world indoor champion Naide Gomes won over European champion Lyudmila Kolchanova in the Monaco contest with a Portuguese national record of 7.12 metres, which would secure at least a medal in the Olympic women’s long jump.

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