Double Olympic pole vault champion, Yelena Isinbayeva, announced yesterday her intention not only to continue to Rio 2016 but her determination to win her third gold.

Isinbayeva was speaking to a group of high school children in St Petersburg on Monday about life after sport, but she made it clear that she was not contemplating that just yet with another Olympics on the horizon: “Of course it was an emotional decision,” said the 30-year-old.

“I will only accept a gold medal. It just so happened that I won only a bronze in London but I aspire to becoming a triple Olympic champion.”

After a truncated season due to injury, Isinbayeva arrived in London with more pressure on her than usual but it still rankles that she did not manage to pull off a win in the British capital: “No one had any doubt that Isinbayeva would win a medal, but she could not carry that burden of expectation over into the competition,” she said.

“Besides, the weather was bad in London, there was a headwind and I was injured, apart from the burden of expectation: it was all too much.” But she hopes for better things in Brazil: “I cannot promise everything will be fine, but as long as I keep my health and the desire to perform [it will be]. Besides, I am sure the weather will be better in Rio!”

Her own injury has prompted thoughts of how the government can help athletes when they get to the end of their career: “I think the problem is not adequately addressed by the state. At the end of their career, athletes are often alone with their health and their injuries. We give our all in the international arena for Russia and already at a young age there are problems with joints and tendons. The state should take care of us after our careers.”

The subject of a future in coaching came up and Isinbayeva reiterated what she had said before: “I would not make a very good coach because I do not have any patience. I am so short-tempered and I want everything to happen right now and at once. You have to live your life 24 hours a day not thinking of yourself nor your family, but only of your athletes – like my coach does. I could not do that.”

While she admitted that like everyone else she would like to start a family, sport had been her whole life up until now: “Sport is my life. I like the fact that I am a good example for children. I want to continue as long as my health holds out. Sport made me what I am.”

As for the future of pole vaulting, Isinbayevea thought it was fruitless to expect technological innovation that would somehow change her discipline: “There will be no breakthroughs in technology like a super new pole that will catapult athletes. That will not happen. Super talents, the ability to train and concentrate, that is what is important. It is a question of human desire, the desire to create, to amaze.”


Yelena Isinbayeva
Yelena Isinbayeva

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