Isinbayeva braced for golden Olympics close-up

Russian diva Yelena Isinbayeva goes for a third Olympic gold medal on Monday, aiming to prove she remains the undisputed queen of women’s pole vaulting.

The 30-year-old world record holder, who has suffered some bitter defeats during the last three seasons, sailed through qualification, needing only two vaults to secure safe passage to the final.

Isinbayeva failed to record a height in a tear-stained 2009 world championships in Berlin and came just sixth in last year’s worlds in Daegu, South Korea.

But at the Beijing 2008 Games, she became the first athlete to win consecutive individual gold medals with world records — 4.91m in Athens in 2004 and 5.05m in the Chinese capital.

She has since improved that mark to 5.06m.

After Sunday’s magical night which saw Usain Bolt storm to a successful defence of his 100m title, Isinbayeva will be the star attraction and expected to cruise to gold after world champion Fabiana Murer and Svetlana Feofanova, who won silver in Athens and bronze in Beijing, all failed to qualify.

“I jumped well, but the weather was difficult for pole vaulting,” Isinbayeva said of the swirling winds inside the Olympic Stadium after Saturday’s qualifying.

“There was a strong wind in our face. But I feel really confident for the final. I feel in top form.”



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