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Double Olympic champion Yelena Isinbaeva: “My only competitor is myself”

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August 6, 2012
When you’ve set 30 world records, become Olympic champion at two consecutive Games and been one of the modern pioneers of your sport, it’s safe to say you know what it takes to get to the top.
For Yelena Isinbaeva, the Russian pole vault star, that means knowing who she is up against inside out.
And luckily for her, she knows that person pretty well.
“In London my main competitors will be myself, “ she told us, “because I know how high I can jump and I know that height is almost impossible for my rivals.”
It’s the kind of confidence that suggests someone totally secure with their capabilities. But she is aware that any successes, and future achievements, aren’t solely down to her alone.
Talking about how much more she can achieve after so many world records, Isinbaeva says: “It’s difficult to say what limit I have.  I always answer the sky is my limit, because I never know how high I can jump, but my coach [Yevgeny Trofimov] says that my potential [is] 5.10 and higher, so that right now and with my present preparation, I am able to jump 5.10.”
And it’s her coach, a valuable member of her team, whom she suggests remains key even after so many years at the top. “He is my coach, he is my friend, he is my second father,” she says, “I trust him 100%, I am confident with him 100% everywhere… and if my coach says this, it means that I can do it.”
Having been competing at the top flight since 1998, Isinbaeva took a break from competition in 2010. It was a period she describes as ‘troubled’.
Two years on, however, and Isinbaeva is as strong as she has ever been throughout a career stretching three decades bringing her two Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Awards.
But now, troubled years behind her and having recently announced she would be retiring within two years, does the London Olympics, the last Olympics she will compete at, fill her with any nerves? Maybe pressure to finish on a high?
“I will not worry about Olympics… I am confident and I will enjoy this moment… I know that right now everything is fine in my life.  I have a very good coach, I have my parents with me, I have my friends.”
And the support received from her team around her and fans in and outside her home country, clearly help keep this Olympic champion performing at her best.
“I have my fans all over the world.  They are very supportive… with all these people around me, everything will be fine.”