August 8, 2013
Ahead of Saturday's opening of the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Moscow, we caught up with pole vault hero and Laureus Award Winner Yelena Isinabyeva. Here she tells us about her plans for Rio 2016, who she considers her main rival and what her hopes are for when she retires.
You have announced that the World Championships in Moscow will be your last event, it will be a very emotional moment for you?
Yelena: I have said it would be my final World Championship. I plan to take a break afterwards, but my intention is to come back and compete in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and win my third gold medal. I wanted to leave the sport on a golden note with my head held high. That did not happen in London. In 2016 I will be 34, still young enough to compete so at the moment my plan is to go to Rio and get my gold back.
Why have you decided to take a break now?
Yelena: I want to take a break to start a family, not officially retire. For me I believe the time is right to start a family and have children. But I am still motivated and want to compete.
You will have many of your supporters in the stadium – it will be a very special atmosphere?
Yelena: Definitely! It is the first time Moscow will host the outdoor World Championships in athletics, so I know it will be a very special event and many Russians will show their support for all athletes, but especially for myself and my team-mates on the Russian team.
You have had a good year so far, can you tell us about your win in Shanghai?
Yelena: It has been a mixed season. I was prepared for Shanghai, but in the competition I suffered a small injury. So I had to take a break after Shanghai with limited training for almost a month. I competed in Ostrava and felt good about my results there and I have competed in my national championships a few weeks ago. So my training and competition preparation are in the right direction. I have 100% faith in my coach.
Are you confident that you can leave the sport for now with the World Championship gold medal win?
Yelena: That is our goal.
Who will be your main opponents?
Yelena: Well, my main opponent is always myself. I respect my other competitors but I do not concern myself with what they are doing in the competition. I am only focused on myself and what I must do. Of course when I know that I have done all my training and preparation with my coach, then I feel confident and I know I will perform my best. With the World Championships in Moscow it is of course a huge motivation for me to do my very best for my family, my fans, my federation and my country.
Do you hope to stay involved in sport when you eventually retire?
Yelena: Once I retire from the professional sport for good, I do plan to stay involved. I want to give back to the sport and help the next generation of athletes and youth make the right decisions and have healthy and happy futures. I hope to continue to work with organisations like the Laureus Sport Good Foundation and devote my time to projects not only in Russia, in my community but also around the world.