I am my strongest rival: Yelena Isinbaeva

Russian pole vault queen Isinbaeva, who has announced her decision to retire after the world championships in Moscow next month, talks to Joe Williams about her career and future plans.

two-time Olympic champion, a two-time world champion and you have broken the world record on several occasions. Is there something you think you didn’t achieve?
I am happy with everything I have achieved in my career. The only thing I wish could have done is set many more world records and win the gold medal at the London Olympics last year. I would have loved to be a three-time Olympic champion, but I had to be content with a bronze medal.

You were always the favourite. What are your chances at the world championships in Moscow next month?
I always worked hard. I think I can win gold in Moscow. I will do my best.

Who could be your main rival at the World Championship?
Me! I am my strongest rival.

When will we get to see another Yelena Isinbaeva in the making?
You never know! The next Yelena Isinbaeva could be anywhere. But I can’t tell you when she will emerge. I really hope my successor is a Russian.

What difference did it make when you left coach Vitaly Petrov and returned to your former mentor Yevgeny Trofimov in 2011?
Vitaly Petrov remains not so close to me, but Yevgeny Trofimov is my countryman. You can see  the difference.

You are used to winning gold medals. Were you then disappointed to finish in third place at the London Olympics?
In a way, yes, but winning a bronze medal is a fantastic achievement. I did have my problems, injuries and difficulties. I had a chance to become a three-time Olympic champion but I missed out.

You said on Russian TV that the people of the UK were not interested in the Olympic Games. In fact, many Londoners were not even aware that their city was hosting the Games!
It was my opinion and I felt like that.

Which has been your most cherished moment in your athletic career?
I have had many wonderful moments in my career, but my first world record tops the list. Also, my first Olympic gold (Athens 2004) and the time I first broke the five-metre mark.

So what next?
First, I will have a family with many kids. Then, I will work for the Olympic movement. I don’t think I can be a coach as I am not tolerant enough!

Yelena Isinbaeva
Yelena Isinbaeva


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