Yelena Isinbayeva put together a sequence of remarkable height clearances, one more exciting than the last, ending in a crescendo of a world-record 5.01m/16-5.25 that brought the crowd in Stockholm, Sweden, to their feet yesterday. The mark broke her own three-year-old world record by one centimeter.
It’s been a rough quadrennium for the defending Olympic Champion. She shocked the track and field world when she no-heighted (pole vault speak for making no clearances) at the 2009 World Championships and placed a disappointing fourth at the 2010 World Indoor Championships seven months later. She then took a one-year sabbatical and returned to place sixth at the 2011 Outdoor World Championships. It was enough for many to write her off as a has-been.
As Joe Battaglia of Universal Sports says, hasn’t Isinbayeva performed at her best when discounted in the past? Indeed. Looking extremely fit and confident, it seems the 28-time world-record breaker has her groove back.
Check out the video below for her sequence of clearances at 4.72m, 4.82m, 4.92m and finally 5.01m. The announcers’ words don’t need to be understood in order to feel their increasing excitement with each clearance. When Isinbayeva clears 5.01m, the announcers and the crowd are exhuberant and surprised, while the athlete has a look on her face of, “That was awesome, but I knew it was coming. I know what I’m capable of, and I’m better than I’ve ever been.”
2012 should be an exciting year.