Yelena Isinbayeva plants her 4.82 World record
There is a record entry of 46 countries for the 4th European U23 Championships which begin today in Bydgoszcz, Poland, leaving only three of the area’s nations unrepresented at this bi-annual event.
The previous participation record stood to the last but one celebration of this event which was held four years ago in Göteborg, when a record figure of 766 athletes from 43 countries were registered. In Poland, from today through to Sunday 20 July, a the total of 867 athletes (490 men and 377 women) will battle for the 44 titles.
Signifying the championships growing importance as a stepping stone from the junior to the top senior ranks, there are many top names competing. Of these athletes none is more talented or for that matter a more topical name than Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva, who at the IAAF Super Grand Prix meeting in Gateshead on Sunday (11 July) cleared a new World record in the women’s Pole Vault (4.82).
The 21 year-old Isinbayeva, who was already the holder of the World junior record, and who had taken silver medals behind her previously more illustrious compatriot Svetlana Feofanova, at last summer’s European senior championships and the World Indoor championships in March of this year, totally upstaged her compatriot on Sunday.
Feofanova (second 4.54) who has on so many occasion been on the receiving end of a world record bonus, could only look on with amazement, as Isinbayeva, despite brushing the bar heavily on her second attempt, crashed down on to the landing mat as the new holder of the World record so beating American Stacy Dragila's 4.81m mark from 2001. In one moment Isinbayeva had been transformed from a talented ‘also-ran’ to one of the hottest properties in Athletics, and was $50,000 the richer too.
Isinbayeva's decision to continue her participation at these championships as planned, is a sign that while her body might be vaulting high, her mental approach to this event is still sensibly firmly clinging to reality. She has clearly recognised that one jump does not make an athlete's career, and the European U23 championships are the ideal staging post for any junior champion hoping to progress to senior titles at global level.
Isinbayeva was a prodigious talent as a junior, for as well as setting the world junior record, she also took the 2000 World Junior title. However, her thoughts yesterday at the championships press conference were of an even earlier winning escapade in her career, for it was in Bydgoszcz, the scene of this weekend's championships, back in 1999 she also won the inaugural World Youth title.
“I am sure that I can jump 4.90 metres in Bydgoszcz,” said the young Russian from Wolgograd yesterday.
Such is the Russian’s new found stature that she has over shadowed the participation of other great names, such as Sweden’s European Heptathlon champion Carlina Klüft, and Poland’s Olympic Hammer champion Kamila Skolimowska. The Polish thrower like Isinbayeva was also a gold medallist at the 1999 World Youths, and took a senior European silver medal in Munich last summer..
Of the winners from the last U23 championships in Amsterdam in 2001, only four athletes - Marcin Jedrusinski (POL/200 m), André Niklaus (GER/Decathlon), Antonina Yefremova (UKR/400 m) and Susanna Kallur (SWE/100 m Hurdles) - have the opportunity to defend their titles. In 2001 they each won as 20 year-old participants, now they can still take part at these championships as 22 year-old athletes. This U23 event brings together athletes with year of birth from 1981 to 1983.