MOSCOW (Reuters) – American Jenn Suhr’s world indoor pole vault record will give extra motivation to Russian Yelena Isinbayeva and push the sport forward generally, former Olympic and world champion Sergei Bubka said on Wednesday.
Suhr broke Isinbayeva’s world indoor record of 5.01 meters by one centimeter last weekend after winning the Olympic gold medal in London ahead of the 2004 and 2008 champion who finished third.
“First of all, I’d like to point out that it (Suhr’s record) is a great achievement in itself because she became only the second woman ever to go over five meters,” the great Ukrainian pole vaulter told Reuters in an interview.
“It (the rivalry) is good for competition and ultimately it will be good for the sport as a whole because the competition pushes the sport forward,” said Bubka, who set 35 world records during his career.
Isinbayeva, 30, dominated women’s pole vaulting after setting her first world record in 2003 but has struggled after failing to clear a height at the 2009 world championships.
She is not competing indoors this season but is training hard for the world outdoor championships in Moscow in August.
Asked if Suhr was capable of breaking Isinbayeva’s outdoor mark of 5.06 meters, Bubka said: “She is very close to it, just a few more centimeters so anything is possible.
“I think (Suhr’s record) will only spur Yelena, will give her extra motivation to come back and try to regain her status,” said Bubka, a personal advisor to Isinbayeva for several years.
“It’s easy to become complacent when you win without much of a challenge from your opponents, but as soon as you feel someone is stepping on your toes it forces you into action.
“You want to jump right into the fight and try to take it back. I know it from my own experience,” added the Ukrainian, the first man to vault over six meters and the only one to go over 20 feet. He still holds both indoor and outdoor men’s world records of 6.15 and 6.14 respectively.
Bubka, who now serves as a vice-president for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), is visiting Moscow this week to inspect the Luzhniki Olympic stadium, the site of the August 10-18 world championships.
Bubka, 49, has been touted as a possible successor to IAAF chief Lamine Diack, who is stepping down from his post in 2015.
Britain’s IAAF vice-president Sebastian Coe has already indicated his intention to replace the Senegalese
But the Ukrainian, who also sits on the executive board of the International Olympic Committee, kept his cards close to his chest when asked if he would like to run for the IAAF top job.
“Well, we have a working president so it wouldn’t be fair to talk about the presidency right now,” Bubka told Reuters.
“For now I’m IAAF vice-president. We’re going to have new elections in 2015, so I’ll announce my decision by then.”