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Yelena Isinbayeva

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Yelena Isinbayeva

Coached by
Yevgeny Trofimov

Nikita Petinov (m. 2014)

1.74 m

65 kg (143 lb)

Olympic athlete

Eva Isinbayeva

Yelena Isinbayeva Profile of Yelena ISINBAYEVA AllAthleticscom

Full name
Yelena Gadzhievna Isinbayeva

3 June 1982 (age 41) (

Track and field athletics

Natalya Petrovna Isinbayeva, Gadzhi Gadzhiyevich Isinbayev

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Yelena Gadzhievna Isinbayeva (Russian: Елена Гаджиевна Исинбаева; [jɪˈlʲɛnə gɐˈdʐɨjɪvnə ɪsʲɪnˈbajɪvə]; born 3 June 1982) is a Russian former pole vaulter. She is a two-time Olympic gold medalist (2004 and 2008), a three-time World Champion (2005, 2007 and 2013), the current world record holder in the event, and is widely considered the greatest female pole-vaulter of all time. Isinbayeva, who has never failed a drug test, was banned from 2016 Rio Olympics, after allegations of an extensive state sponsored doping program in the Russian Federation, thus dashing her hopes of a grand retirement winning the Olympic gold medal. She retired from athletics in August 2016 after being elected to serve an 8-year term on the IOC's Athletes' Commission.


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Isinbayeva has been a major champion on nine occasions (Olympic, World outdoor and indoor champion and European outdoor and indoor champion). She was also the jackpot winner of the IAAF Golden League series in 2007 and 2009. After poor performances at the world championships in 2009 and 2010, she took a year-long break from the sport.

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She became the first woman to clear the five-metre barrier in 2005. Her current world record is 5.06 m outdoors, set in Zurich in August 2009. Her 5.01 m indoors was the world record for just over a year. The latter was Isinbayeva's twenty-eighth pole vault world record. On 2 March 2013, Jenn Suhr joined Isinbayeva as the only women who have cleared 5 metres. In the process, Suhr took Isinbayeva's indoor world record.

Yelena Isinbayeva Yelena Isinbayeva celebrity picture gallery at Lazygirlsinfo

Isinbayeva was named Female Athlete of the Year by the IAAF in 2004, 2005 and 2008, and World Sportswoman of the Year by Laureus in 2007 and 2009. In 2007 she entered in the FICTS "Hall of Fame" and was awarded with "Excellence Guirlande D'Honneur". She was given the Prince of Asturias Award for Sports in 2009. She is one of only nine athletes (along with Valerie Adams, Usain Bolt, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Jacques Freitag, Kirani James, Jana Pittman, Dani Samuels, and David Storl) to win world championships at the youth, junior, and senior level of an athletic event.

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Yelena isinbayeva the pole vault ceremony world athletics championships 2013 in moscow

Early life and competition

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Born to a Tabasaran father and a Russian mother in Volgograd, Isinbayeva trained as a gymnast from the age of 5 to 15. She ultimately left the sport because, as she grew, she was considered too tall to be competitive in gymnastics, ultimately attaining a height of 1.74 metres (5 ft 8.5 in).

Yelena Isinbayeva Yelena Isinbayeva Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Six months after having taken up pole-vaulting she won her first major victory at age 16 during the 1998 World Youth Games in Moscow, Russia with a height of 4.00 m. It was her third athletic competition. She jumped the same height at the 1998 World Junior Championships in Annecy, France, but this left her 10 cm away from the medal placings.

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In 1999, Isinbayeva improved on this height at the World Youth Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland when she cleared 4.10 m to take her second gold medal.

At the 2000 World Juniors Isinbayeva again took first place clearing 4.20 m ahead of German Annika Becker. The same year the women's pole vault made its debut as an Olympic event in Sydney, Australia where Stacy Dragila of the United States took gold. In the same event Isinbayeva did not make it out of the qualifying round.

She won another gold medal in 2001, this time at the European Junior Championships with a winning height of 4.40 m.

Isinbayeva continued to improve and 2002 saw her clear 4.55 m at the European Championships, where she gained her first senior championship medal (silver), finishing 5 cm short of her compatriot Svetlana Feofanova.

First world records and Olympic title

2003 was another year of progression and saw Isinbayeva win the European Under 23 Championships gold with 4.65 m (in Bydgoszcz). On 13 July 2003, just about a month after her 21st birthday, Isinbayeva set her first World Record at a meeting in Gateshead, England with a height of 4.82 m, which had made her the favourite to take gold at the World Championships the following month. She ended up winning the bronze medal with Feofanova taking gold and Becker the silver.

At a meeting at Donetsk, Ukraine, Isinbayeva set a new indoor world record, with a height of 4.83 m only to see Feofanova increase this by two centimetres the following week. The following month at the World's Indoor in March Isinbayeva broke Feofanova's record with a gold medal winning jump of 4.86 m beating reigning indoor & outdoor champion Feofanova into bronze with reigning Olympic champion Dragila taking silver. The IAAF considered all three records to be over-all (outdoor) records, hence the indoor and outdoor records now stood at 4.86 m

27 June saw Isinbayeva return to Gateshead and improved the world record to 4.87 m. Feofanova responded the following week by breaking the record by a centimetre in Heraklion, Greece.

On 25 July in Birmingham, England, Isinbayeva reclaimed the record jumping 4.89 m and five days later in Crystal Palace, London, added a further centimetre to the record.

At the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Isinbayeva won gold medal with a new world record height of 4.91 m. She subsequently broke the record later that year at the Memorial Van Damme in Brussels with a 4.92 m jump, her eighth world record of the season. Isinbayeva was named World Athlete of the Year for winning the Olympic & World Indoor title and breaking the World record eight times.

World and European champion

At the European Indoor Championships in Madrid, Spain Isinbayeva won gold with a new indoor world record of 4.90 m. In July 2005, Isinbayeva broke the world record four times over three separate meetings. First in Lausanne, Switzerland, she added an extra centimetre to her own mark clearing 4.93 m. It was the 14th world record of Isinbayeva's career coming just three months after she broke her own indoor mark (4.89 m) in Lievin. Eleven days later, in Madrid, Spain, she added an additional 2 cm to clear 4.95 m. In Crystal Palace, London on 22 July, after improving the record to 4.96 m, she raised the bar to 5.00 m. She then became the first woman in history to clear the once mythical five-metre barrier in pole vaulting, achieving the monumental mark with a single attempt.

After the women's pole vault final at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, Finland was delayed due to extremely bad weather conditions, Isinbayeva once again broke her own world record, performing 5.01 m in her second attempt, and winning the competition with a 41 cm margin of victory, which was the greatest margin ever obtained in any World or Olympic competition for the event. This was already the eighteenth world record in the career of the then 23-year-old Isinbayeva and her successful season was crowned with her second consecutive World Athlete of the Year award.

At an indoor meeting on 12 February in Donetsk, Ukraine, Isinbayeva set a new indoor world record. She cleared 4.91 m. In March she successfully defended her World Indoor title in front of a homeland crowd in Moscow, Russia. During the 2006 European Athletics Championships in Gothenburg she won the gold medal with a CR of 4.80 metres. This was the only gold medal missing from her collection until that time. In September she won the World Cup, representing Russia, in Athens.

Isinbayeva was crowned Laureus World Sports Woman of the Year for the 2006 season.

Second world and Olympic golds

On 10 February 2007 in Donetsk, Ukraine, Isinbayeva broke the world indoor pole vault record again, by clearing 4.93 metres. It was Isinbayeva's 20th world record.

On 28 August 2007 Isinbayeva repeated as world champion in Osaka at the 2007 World Championships in Athletics with a 4.80 m performance, then failed three times at setting a new world record at 5.02 m. Her competition did no better than 4.75 m.

In 2007, she also won the IAAF Golden League Jackpot (which she shared with Sanya Richards) after having won all 2007 IAAF Golden League meetings. Isinbayeva was unbeaten in the 2007 season and won 18 out of 18 competitions.

During the indoor 2008 season, Isinbayeva set her twenty-first world record, clearing 4.95 metres on 16 February 2008 in Donetsk, Ukraine. A few weeks later, in Valencia, Spain, Isinbayeva won the World Indoor Championships over Jennifer Stuczynski. It was Isinbayeva's third consecutive World Indoor title.

On 11 July, at her first outdoor competition of the season, Rome's Golden Gala, Isinbayeva broke her own world record, clearing 5.03 metres. This was her first world record outdoors since the 2005 World Championships. Isinbayeva stated that she had tried 5.02 metres so many times unsuccessfully that her coach told her to change something and so she attempted 5.03 metres. This record came just as people began to speculate her fall from the top of pole vaulting, as American Jennifer Stuczynski cleared 4.92 metres at the American Olympic Trials. Isinbayeva stated that this motivated her to maintain her reputation as the world's greatest female pole vaulter. A few weeks later, at the Aviva London Grand Prix, Isinbayeva and Stuczynski competed together for the first time of the outdoor season. Isinbayeva won the competition, with Stuczynski finishing second. Both attempted a new world record of 5.04 metres. Isinbayeva was tantalizingly close on her final attempt, with the bar falling only after Isinbayeva had landed on the mat.

She successfully cleared that height on 29 July, in Monte-Carlo, Monaco, her twenty-third world record.

At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing on 18 August, Isinbayeva needed two vaults to prolong her Olympic title reign and went on to finish the competition with 5.05m, a world record at the time, her 24th world record.

On 23 November in Monaco, she was selected World Athlete of the Year by the IAAF for the third time in her career, along with Jamaican male sprinter Usain Bolt.

Break and return

Isinbayeva started the 2009 season by becoming the first woman to vault over 5 metres indoors. She first raised her world indoor mark with a vault of 4.97 m, then raised the bar to 5.00 m and cleared that height as well. The two marks were set at the Pole Vault Stars indoor meet, on 15 February, in Donetsk, Ukraine. It was the sixth consecutive year she had set an indoor world record in this meet. She received the Laureus World Sports Award for Sportswoman of the Year in recognition of her achievements – it was also the fifth time she had been nominated for the award in as many years.

At the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany, Isinbayeva lost her second competition of the year after failing to achieve a successful vault. The world champion was Anna Rogowska who also beat her in the London Grand Prix in May. However, Yelena Isinbayeva broke her own women's pole vault world record at the Weltklasse Golden League meeting by clearing 5.06 m. On 2 September she was given the 2009 Prince of Asturias Award for Sports.

She hoped to put her World Championships no-mark performance behind her by aiming for a world indoor record at the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships. The Russian cleared her opening height of 4.60 m at the championships in Doha, but she faltered at 4.75 m and she ended up in fourth place and outside of the medals for a second consecutive time. Following another disappointment at a major championships, she decided to take time out from the sport to recuperate, saying: "A break from competing is absolutely necessary for me. After more than eight years of very hard training and competing at the highest levels both indoors and outdoors each year I need to step back in order for my body to properly recover".

She missed the opportunity to defend her title at the 2010 European Championships and she was succeeded by her compatriot Svetlana Feofanova, while Fabiana Murer went on to claim the inaugural IAAF Diamond League pole vault series. Isinbayeva continued to train with Vitaliy Petrov during her time out, however, although did not appear in competition until the start of the 2011 indoor season. The Russian Winter meeting in February 2011 was the venue for her comeback and she demonstrated her resurgence of form with a first time clearance of 4.81 m, comfortably defeating Feofanava.

On March 2011, Isinbayeva left her coach Vitaly Petrov and returned to her former mentor Yevgeny Trofimov, who had coached her since the age of 15 and until 2005. During the 2011 summer season she participated in only a few competitions and on 29 July she won the Diamond League meeting of Stockholm with a season best of 4.76 m. However, in the World Championships in Daegu she ended up again outside of the medals, taking the sixth place with 4.65 m.

She began 2012 with a clearance of 4.70 m at the Governor's Cup in Volgograd. At the 2012 Olympic Games, she easily qualified for the finals, where she came third with 4.70 m. She considered the bronze medal as success but mentioned that she would like to retire as acting Olympic champion. During the London Games she caused surprise and amusement in Britain when she was reported to have told Russian TV that the people of the UK were not interested in the Olympic Games and many Londoners were not even aware they were happening in their city.

In 2016, during the Russian nationals, she posted the world leading jump of 4.90m following a ban of Russian track & field from the Olympics. The ban prevented her from taking part in the Rio Olympics, but her fellow athletes at those Olympics elected her to serve an 8-year term on the IOC's Athletes' Commission, after which she announced her retirement from athletics.

In December 2016, Isinbayeva became the chair of the supervisory board of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency.


When Swedish high jumper Emma Green Tregaro, a supporter of LGBT rights, painted her nails in rainbow colors during the 2013 World Championships in Moscow as an act of defiance against Russia's recent ban on gay "propaganda that targets children", Isinbayeva condemned Green Tregaro's action in a news conference. Isinbayeva subsequently issued a clarification of her views after the world press published her comments, which had provoked expressions of dismay including from fellow athletes outside Russia.

After the Court of Arbitration for Sport turned down an appeal by Russian athletes, Isinbayeva wrote, "Let all those pseudo clean foreign athletes breathe a sigh of relief and win their pseudo gold medals in our absence. They always did fear strength." She called for whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova to be "banned for life".

After she became chair of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency's supervisory board, IAAF taskforce chair Rune Andersen stated, "It is difficult to see how this helps to achieve the desired change in culture in track and field, or how it helps to promote an open environment for Russian whistleblowers", noting that Isinbayeva had called a WADA report "groundless" without reading it, publicly criticised whistleblowers (Andrei Dmitriev, Yuliya Stepanova, and Vitaliy Stepanov), and had not signed a pledge for clean sport or endorsed a Russian anti-doping group.

Reasons for success

Setting 28 world records (15 outdoor and 13 indoor), staying virtually unbeaten between 2004 and 2009 (winning nine straight gold medals in indoor and outdoor championships) and being elected IAAF World Athlete of the Year in 2004, 2005 and 2008, Isinbayeva has established herself as one of the most successful athletes of her generation.

In August 2005, top UK pole vault coach Steve Rippon said to the BBC that "she [Isinbayeva] is one of the few female pole vaulters I look at and think her technique is as good as the men's. In fact, the second part of her jump is probably better than any male pole vaulter currently competing. She has a fantastic technique, she's quite tall (almost 5ft 9in) and she runs extremely well."

These statements are confirmed by close observation of her jumps; in detail, Isinbayeva's high level of body control (courtesy of her gymnastics background) especially pays off in the so-called "L-Phase", where it is vital to use the pole's rebound to convert horizontal speed into height. Common mistakes are getting rebounded away in an angle (rather than vertically up) or inability to keep the limbs stiff, both resulting in loss of vertical speed and therefore less height. In Isinbayeva's case, her L-Phase is exemplary.

Personal life

Her father, Gadzhi Gadzhiyevich Isinbayev, is a plumber and a member of a small (200,000-people strong) ethnic group of Tabasarans who mostly live in Dagestan. Her mother, a shop assistant, is Russian. Isinbayeva also has a sister named Inna. Isinbayeva came from humble beginnings and remembers that her parents had to make many financial sacrifices in her early career.

She has both a Bachelor's and Master's Degree after graduating from the Volgograd State Academy of Physical Culture. Currently she is continuing her post-graduate studies there and also studying at the Donetsk National Technical University.

In the Russian club competitions she represents the railroad military team; she is formally an officer in the Russian army, and on 4 August 2005 she was given military rank of senior lieutenant before being promoted to captain in August 2008.

She features in Toshiba ads promoting their entire product line in Russia. She also appears in a Lady's Speed Stick advertisement in Russia.

On 2 December 2010 she gave a speech before the FIFA delegates in Zürich. Later on that occasion it was announced that Russia will host the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Yelena Isinbayeva is now a member of the ‘Champions for Peace’ club, a group of 54 famous elite athletes committed to serving peace in the world through sport, created by Peace and Sport, a Monaco-based international organization.

On 15 August 2013, Isinbayeva courted controversy by appearing to come out in favour of a law banning "homosexual propaganda that targets children" in Russia which had drawn sharp criticism from some representatives of the international community and had led activists to call for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Russian resort of Sochi. Isinbayeva was an ambassador for the games and welcomed athletes as a "mayor" of the Olympic Village at Sochi. She later released a statement through the IAAF, athletics' world governing body, clarifying her views. She said she was opposed to discrimination against gay people on the grounds of their sexuality (which is against the Olympic Charter). Isinbayeva had made her original remarks in response to a gesture made by the Swedish high-jumper Emma Green Tregaro and others who had painted their fingernails in rainbow colours as an expression of support for gays and lesbians in Russia and in protest against recently passed laws banning what the Russian government describe as propaganda for nontraditional sexual relations directed at minors. The Swedish Olympic Committee subsequently cautioned their athletes against engaging in the same type of manifestations at the Sochi Olympics.

On 7 February 2014, Isinbayeva, while pregnant, was one of the final torch bearers for the 2014 Winter Olympics opening ceremony. She has one child, Eva, born 28 June 2014. She married Eva's father, javelin thrower Nikita Petinov (b. 1990) shortly before their daughter's birth and had a wedding celebration on 12 December 2014.



  • 1st – 4.83 m – Pole Vault Stars, Donetsk, Ukraine
  • 1st – 4.86 m – World Indoor Championships, Budapest, Hungary (WR)
  • 1st – 4.87 m – IAAF Gateshead, Great Britain (WR)
  • 1st – 4.89 m – Birmingham International Meeting, Great Britain (WR)
  • 1st – 4.90 m – British Grand Prix London, Great Britain (WR)
  • 1st – 4.91 m – Summer Olympics, Athens, Greece (WR)
  • 1st – 4.92 m – Golden League Brussels, Belgium (WR)
  • 1st – 4.83 m – 2nd World Athletics Final, Monte Carlo, Monaco
  • 2005

  • 1st – 4.87 m – Pole Vault Stars, Donetsk, Ukraine
  • 1st – 4.90 m – European Indoor Championships, Madrid, Spain
  • 1st – 4.93 m – IAAF Lausanne, Switzerland (WR)
  • 1st – 4.95 m – Meeting de Madrid, Spain (WR)
  • 1st – 5.00 m – IAAF London, Great Britain (WR)
  • 1st – 4.79 m – IAAF Stockholm, Sweden
  • 1st – 5.01 m – World Championships, Helsinki, Finland (WR)
  • 1st – 4.93 m – Golden League Brussels, Belgium
  • 1st – 4.74 m – 3rd World Athletics Final, Monte Carlo, Monaco
  • 2006

  • 1st – 4.91 m – Pole Vault Stars, Donetsk, Ukraine (iWR)
  • 1st – 4.79 m – Norwich Union Grand Prix, Birmingham, Great Britain
  • 1st – 4.72 m – Meeting Gaz de France du Pas-de-Calais, Lievin, France
  • 1st – 4.80 m – World Indoor Championships, Moscow, Russia
  • 1st – 4.76 m – IAAF Paris Saint-Denis, France
  • 1st – 4.90 m – IAAF Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 1st – 4.91 m – IAAF London, Great Britain
  • 1st – 4.80 m – European Championships, Gothenburg, Sweden
  • 1st – 4.81 m – Golden League Brussels, Belgium
  • 1st – 4.75 m – 4th World Athletics Final, Stuttgart, Germany
  • 2007

  • 1st – 4.93 m – Pole Vault Stars, Donetsk, Ukraine (iWR)
  • 1st – 4.91 m – Meeting Gaz De France, Paris, France
  • 1st – 4.90 m – Golden League Rome, Italy
  • 1st – 4.82 m – Norwich Union Super Grand Prix, London, Great Britain
  • 1st – 4.80 m – World Championships, Osaka, Japan
  • 1st – Golden League Brussels, Belgium
  • 1st – 4.87 m – 5th World Athletics Final, Stuttgart, Germany
  • 2008

  • 1st – 4.95 m – Pole Vault Stars, Donetsk, Ukraine (iWR)
  • 1st – 4.75 m – World Indoor Championships, Valencia, Spain
  • 1st – 5.03 m – Golden Gala, Rome, Italy (WR)
  • 1st – 5.04 m – Super Grand Prix, Monte Carlo, Monaco (WR)
  • 1st – 5.05 m – Summer Olympics, Beijing, China (WR)
  • 1st – 4.88 m – IAAF Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2009

  • 1st – 5.00 m – Pole Vault Stars, Donetsk, Ukraine (iWR)
  • 1st – 4.82 m – Aviva Grand Prix, Birmingham, Great Britain
  • 1st – 4.83 m – ISATF Berlin, Germany
  • 1st – 4.65 m – Meeting Gaz de France, Paris, France
  • 2nd – 4.68 m – Aviva London Grand Prix, London, Great Britain
  • no height recorded – World Championships, Berlin, Germany
  • 1st – 5.06 m – IAAF Golden League, Zurich, Switzerland (WR)
  • 2010

  • 1st – 4.85 m – Russian Winter Meeting, Moscow, Russia
  • 1st – 4.85 m – Pole Vault Stars, Donetsk, Ukraine
  • 4th – 4.60 m – World Indoor Championships, Doha, Qatar
  • 2011

  • 1st – 4.81 m – Russian Winter Meeting, Moscow, Russia
  • 1st – 4.85 m – Pole Vault Stars, Donetsk, Ukraine
  • 1st – 4.60 m – Night of Athletics, Heusden, Belgium
  • 1st – 4.76 m – Diamond League, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 6th – 4.65 m – World Championships, Daegu, South Korea
  • 2012

  • 1st – 5.01 m – XL-Galan, Stockholm, Sweden (iWR)
  • 1st – 4.80 m – World Indoor Championships, Istanbul, Turkey
  • 3rd – 4.70 m – Summer Olympic, London, Great Britain
  • 2013

  • 1st – 4.78 m – Ostrava Meeting, Ostrava, Czech Republic
  • 1st – 4.75 m – Russian National Championship, Moscow, Russia
  • 1st – 4.89 m – World Championships, Moscow, Russia
  • 2016

  • 1st – 4.90 m – Russian National Championship, Cheboksary, Russia
  • World record progression by Isinbayeva

    Yelena Isinbayeva has set 17 world records and 13 indoor world records. Several of her indoor world records were also ratified as world records.

    Records list

    (Records in bold are current ones.)


    Yelena Isinbayeva Wikipedia

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