Laureus Olympians: One to one with Yelena Isinbayeva

MONACO - April 17, 2012
Russian pole vault queen Yelena Isinbayeva says the only thing that can stop her winning a third straight Olympic gold medal in London this summer is ‘herself’.

Speaking in an interview with in Monaco, where she lives and trains, Isinbaeva said: “In London, my main competitors will be myself, because I know how high I can jump and I know that height is almost impossible for my rivals. I am not worrying about the Olympics. I am confident because I know that right now everything is fine in my life.”

Her current outdoors world record is 5.06 metres, so how high can she go to win the gold medal? She said: “My coach 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.”

In the interview, the two-time winner of the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award also said that she would retire in two years time, but hoped to break Sergey Bubka’s record of 35 world records before then. She has currently set 30 world records herself.

The year 2012 has started superbly for Isinbayeva, who won Olympic gold medals in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008, but who took a break from the sport in 2010 after some poor performances.

She said: “My winter season started fantastically well. My victory in the World Indoor Championship in Istanbul gives me more confidence for the Olympic Games in London and my indoor world record in Stockholm brings me back on top, so I am again No 1 in the ranking. It’s such a great feeling to come back to the same level as I was before.  It’s great to feel again that I am able to jump five metres and higher.”

Isinbayeva says her break from pole vaulting was as a result of what she describes as ‘terrible years.’ She said: “I was tired from everything.  My body, my mind was tired because I was almost ten years competing at winter season and summer season.  So, yes, I decided to have some rest without competing, without training, without everything.”

Now, refreshed, she hopes she can win another gold medal in London and as a result possibly her third Laureus Award. “For me, Laureus is something special. It is my dream to be a three times winner. It is such a big honour. I keep my two Laureus trophies here in Monaco. I have a special wall at my apartment where I put all my trophies and the Laureus have the two best places on it.”

Isinbayeva says that her decision to return to Yevgeny Trofimov, her coach from her early years, has been a key element in her revival. She said: “To work again with Yevgeny was my best decision ever in my life, because I trust him. I grew up with him as a pole vaulter. He loves me like a daughter. I do not consider him just a coach.  He is my coach, he is my friend, he is my second father.  I trust him 100%. I am confident with him 100% everywhere.”

Isinbayeva also said that another of her remaining career goals was to beat Laureus World Sports Academy Member Sergey Bubka’s record of 35 world records. She says: “Sergey was a role model. He was a star at the time I was starting. It was my goal from the beginning to set up 36 world records.  I would like to make one more than Sergey did.  So, yes, this is still in my mind and now I feel that I can achieve it.”

But she sets herself a time limit to achieve this. “For me, I decide that another two years and then I will retire.  Training becomes difficult, hard and, of course, every year the body is getting old it becomes harder and harder to prepare for the competition. I enjoy competition more than training. When I’m on the track, I always think, oh my goodness it’s so easy.  Why can’t it be all the time the same.  But once I get off the podium, I was like ‘oh, I’m too tired for the training’.”
After retirement, she wants to remain involved with sport. “Everything I achieve now is through sport and I feel the obligation that I have to share my experience, my knowledge, my emotions with the young generation, because I cannot just throw away all my experience I’ve got through so many years in sport.  So this is my No 1 obligation once I’m retired. I am very proud to be a supporter of the Laureus Sport For Good Foundation which enriches the lives of so many less fortunate children.  This is my philosophy too.”
Read the full transcript here

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