After extending her own world outdoor record to 5.03 meters earlier in 2008, Yelena Isinbayeva extended it even further at the Beijing Olympic Games, winning the gold with a leap of 5.05 meters (16 feet, 6¾ inches). Isinbayeva broke her own world indoor record in February 2009 by clearing 5.00/16-4¾. She struggled through the 2009 outdoor season before shockingly no-heighting in the World Championships, then rebounded by breaking her outdoor record in August, leaping 5.06/16-7¼. Championships eluded the Russian in 2010 and 2011, but she improved the indoor world mark to 5.01/16-5¼ in 2012, although Jenn Suhr broke the mark in 2013. Isinbayeva won the World Indoor Championship in 2012, then took a bronze medal at the London Olympics.
From Gymnast to Vaulter:
Isinbayeva began her athletic life as a gymnast, training in the sport from age five through 15, when she was considered too tall for gymnastics. Her height and strength are beneficial for pole vaulting, however. Meanwhile, her gymnastic skills didn’t go to waste – the body control she learned is particularly helpful at the top of her vault.
Isinbayeva is so dominating that her main measuring stick is often her own past performance. Her 5.06-meter outdoor vault in 2009 and 5.01 indoor performance in 2012 marked the 27th and 28th times she set a world pole vault record.
Isinbayeva was unbeaten in major world competition from 2004-08. She won the gold at the Athens Olympics, three straight World Indoor Championships from 2004-08, plus the 2005 and ’07 World Outdoor Championships.
- Height: 5-9
- Weight: 146
- Birth date: June 3, 1982
- Hometown: Volgograd, Russia
- Personal Best: 5.06 meters (16 feet, 7¼ inches)