Yelena Isinbayeva beats the rain in Heusden (Nadia Verhoft) © Copyright
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Isinbayeva wins with 4.60m in heavy rain and strong winds in Heusden - Updated

-Zolder, Belgium – Yelena Isinbayeva showed guts and character in her comeback in competition at the KBC Night of Athletics in Heusden-Zolder on Saturday (16).

Heavy rain and strong winds disturbed the athletes throughout the competition, but the Russian kept her concentration and crossed bars at 4.50m and at 4.60m respectively to win the event against a strong field.

Isinbayeva, who last competed on 12 February 2011 when winning with 4.85m indoors in Donetsk, Ukraine, had not taken part in an outdoor meeting since her 4.60m victory in Daegu, Korea on 25 September 2009, just weeks after no heighting in the IAAF World Championships final in Berlin (17 Aug) and rebounding to improve her World record with a 5.06m Vault in Zürich (28 Aug).

Isinbayeva pleased with performance

At her opening height of 4.50m Isinbayeva sailed over with a large margin. That boosted her confidence and she repeated that when the bar was raised to 4.60m. At that point only Carolin Hingst from Germany could hang on by clearing 4.60m at her third attempt. Hingst said that normally a Pole Vault competition would have been cancelled by meeting organizer under such circumstances, indicating how bad the weather conditions actually were.

But this was not just a “normal” Pole Vault event. It was the competition that World Record holder and Olympic Champion Isinbayeva had chosen to make her comeback into international athletics after a one year withdraw of competition. In spite of the bad conditions Isinbayeva was spotted on the infield as a very concentrated and motivated competitor from the very moment when she started her warming up.

Isinbayeva: ‘It’s good to be back in business’

“I wanted to compete because I was strongly focused on this comeback,” Isinbayeva said. “I did not want to take any risk and decided to attempt a first bar at 4.50m. Technically I jumped well and I felt good. The next height went equally well. At 4.70m my muscles really began to suffer from the cold and from the rain. I didn’t have enough energy left to clear that bar. But after all I must be happy with this result. I won the competition and I was well in control of my technique. And I got a fine reception from the Belgian crowd here. It’s good to be back in business.”

The crowd was delighted when Isinbayeva addressed them with a word of thanks in Dutch. The spectators at the KBC Night of Athletics are true athletic fans and they strongly appreciated that the pole vaulters did not let them down.

“The former Isinbayeva would probably not have jumped in these conditions”, she said. “I guess that I have become mentally stronger as well.” Anyway, to compete in these conditions in the way she did was a gutsy display of a true champion.

Isinbayeva will next compete in Lugano (18 July) and Lucerne (21 July).

Germans Carolin Hingst and Kristina Gadschiew were second and third respectively with 4.60m and 4.50m.

Belgian 4 x 400m relay delights the local fans

Twin brothers Kévin and Jonathan Borlée lead the European 400m ranks with 44.74 and 45.04 respectively and the Belgian relay team heads the European rankings this year. To highlight that success the meeting organisers set up a 4 x 400m Relay event with a very useful line up.

Belgium went off in third but Jonathan Borlée brought his team back into contention. Belgium stayed in the lead throughout but was strongly threatened by the teams of South Africa and Botswana all the way. It was not until Kévin Borlée accelerated in the final straight that the local victory was secured. Under the circumstances 3:02.81 was an excellent performance from the Belgian team.

“It is hard to stay concentrated and motivated in the cold and the rain. But we wanted to please the fans and we went out fast and aggressive,” said Jonathan Borlée.

Impressive wins for Fredericks and Chemut

Cornel Fredericks was a dominant winner in the 400m Hurdles. The South African left the field trailing well behind when he came through to win in 49.25 ahead of Isa Phillips from Jamaica who clocked 50.04.

800m favourite Tyler Mulder from the USA went into the lead with 250m to go and he opened a gap of 10 metres for what looked to become a comfortable win. But in the last 30 metres 18-year-old Kenyan Anthony Chemut moved past the American to win in 1:45.75, smashing his lifetime best by 1.4 seconds.

First international success for Belete in the 5000m

There was more to cheer for the local crowd as Almensh Belete went off with the leading group of five in the 5000m. The Ethiopian has based in Belgium for quite a while and may become a Belgian citizen in the near future. In the last lap Belete attacked and held off compatriot Genet Ayalew to finish in a new PB of 15:09.71.

Elsewhere Kenyan William Biwott Tanui took the 1500m in 3:35.93, while junior Albert Rop from Kenya won the 5000m in 13.10.37, shaving 36 seconds off his previous personal best.  Fred Townsend from the USA was the fastest high hurdler in 13.43.

Ivo Hendrix for the IAAF

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