TATIANA Grigorieva, the glamorous Australian pole vaulter, will retire from the sport even though she finished last year ranked in the top 10 in the world.
The 31-year-old’s toned, tattooed physique may have helped in the fame game but it was her gutsy competitive streak that made her one of Australia’s most successful athletes.
“It is a massive decision for me: I have been doing it for 10 years, it has been a fantastic journey,” Grigorieva said yesterday.
“But I want to be settled now, I am ready for that. My personal ego is totally satisfied.”
While her looks saw her voted one of the 10 sexiest female athletes in the world, her athletic achievements were world class and always her priority.
She leaves the sport with a full complement of medals – a 2000 Olympic silver, a 1999 world championship bronze and Commonwealth Games gold (2002) and silver (last year) – a haul only a handful of Australian track-and-field athletes match. While her sporting star waned during the past few years as she struggled with injury and the end of her marriage to fellow pole vaulter Viktor Chistiakov, Grigorieva never gave up striving.
That was proved last year. Her final two competitive jumps, in Japan and Korea four months ago, were her highest. She leaves with a personal best of 4.58m, Australia’s third-best female vault so far.
The statuesque Russian-born athlete, a junior hurdler, moved to Australia with her then boyfriend, Chistiakov, in 1997. She took up pole vaulting because it gave her the chance to travel with Chistiakov.
Her life changed when she jumped a personal best 4.55m to win silver before 110,000 fans at the Olympics in Sydney.
By: Jenny Mcasey
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