Yelena Isinbayeva

  • Full name Yelena Isinbayeva
  • Birth date June 3, 1982
  • Birth place Volgograd, Russia
  • Current age 39 years 236 days
  • Height 5 ft 9 in
Yelena Isinbayeva

A two-time Olympic gold medallist, five-time world champion and current world record holder - Yelena Isinbayeva is widely regarded to be the greatest female pole-vaulter of all time and is held in the same esteem as the great Sergey Bubka.

Isinbayeva originally trained as a gymnast, before she was considered too tall at the age of 15. Her physique didn't go to waste, however, as her height and strength were transferrable to the pole vault. She took to the sport like a duck to water, winning her first major victory - at the 1998 World Youth Games - six months after picking up a pole for the first time.

The women's pole-vault was accepted as an Olympic event for the first time in 2000, although Isinbayeva didn't enjoy its inauguration as she failed to make it out of the qualifying round. It didn't take her long to return to winning ways, however, winning gold at the 2001 European Junior Championships.

After claiming her first senior championships medal, silver at the 2002 European Championships, Isinbayeva went from strength to strength. Shortly after her 21st birthday, she set her first world record, on English soil, and in 2004 she won gold at the Athens Olympics.

At the 2005 European Indoor Championships, Isinbayeva won gold with a new indoor world record, and her triumph sparked a tremendous run of form. She broke her outdoor record four times over three meetings and later became the first woman in history to clear the five-metre barrier. She walked away with another gold at the 2005 World Championships, vaulting 5.01m for the 18th world record of an astonishing career.

At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Isinbayeva defended her Olympic crown with another monumental performance, increasing the world's best mark to 5.05m.

After a great start to the 2009 season, when Isinbayeva cleared 5m for the first time indoors, her form deserted her. She struggled through the outdoor season before no-heighting in the World Championships - the first time she missed out on a major championship triumph since 2003. "I can't explain it. I was in perfect shape. I don't know what happened," she said.

After finishing fourth at the 2010 World Indoor Championships, the Russian decided to take time out from the sport to recuperate. The 27-time world record breaker returned to the sport in 2011, announcing in March she had returned to her first coach Evgeniy Trofimov, and she won a Diamond League meeting in Stockholm that summer with a season's best of 4.76m.

Isinbayeva then arrived in London for the 2012 Olympics aiming for a third successive gold medal, but the feat proved too much. She did however cement her status with the bronze medal, finishing behind Jennifer Suhr and Yarisley Silva.

Career high
Beating compatriot Svetlana Feofanova to the coveted Olympic title in 2004, setting a new world record of 4.91m in the process.

Career low
Losing her first major pole-vault competition for six years at the 2009 World Championships. She failed to clear 4.80m, leaving her unable to claim a fourth consecutive title.

"Regardless of what position I have in life, or in society, I always remain accessible to the people." Yelena Isinbayeva

"I don't want to consider the bar a rival, I would say that she is my friend, she will be always on the top and she won't fall down." Yelena Isinbayeva

If a movie was made about her life, Isinbayeva would like Angelina Jolie to play her. She said: "I simply adore her. Her birthday is on June 4 and mine is on June 3. I do not know her personally, but I watch her doing interviews, acting. She is extremely charismatic."


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Feb 23, 2012

Yelena Isinbayeva reacts as she clears the bar

Feb 23, 2012

Yelena Isinbayeva poses next to her new indoor world record

Mar 14, 2010

Yelena Isinbayeva looks dejected