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Yelena Isinbayeva is an athlete competing in Track & Field at the 2012 London Summer Olympics for Russia.

Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia will make the fourth Olympic appearance of her career this summer in London, where she will look to win a third consecutive gold medal in the women's pole vault. After repeating as Olympic champion in 2008, Isinbayeva raised her world record in 2009 but has mostly struggled to meet her lofty standards.

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 2010, she served as an athlete ambassador to the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. Later that year, her passionate speech before the FIFA delegates in Zürich helped Russia win its bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

On February 23, Isinbayeva rose to the challenge of young Britain Holly Bleasdale at the XL-Galan Indoor Meeting to set the 28th world record of her career. After Bleasdale took the lead with a first-attempt clearance at 4.72m/15-5¾, Isinbayeva entered at that height but needed two attempts to clear. At 4.82m/15-9¾, Isinbayeva turned the tables on her less-experienced competitor and soared over the bar on her first try while Bleasdale failed three times.With victory sealed and the stage all hers, Isinbayeva proceeded to take the world lead from Suhr with a third-attempt clearance of 4.92m/16-1¾ before setting her new standard on a second attempt.

In March 2011, Isinbayeva announced that she was leaving Vitaly Petrov, her coach since 2005, and would be returning to Yevgeny Trofimov, her coach prior to Petrov. It was apparently a move she was considering for some time, but one that Petrov was not receptive too at first. "I think she had tried to approach me last year but I didn't want to have any contact with her," Petrov said, adding that he was "simply betrayed" by Isinbayeva in 2005. As part of returning to Petrov, Isinbayeva is moving back home to Volograd. Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of soccer club Chelsea, has pledged to rebuild the indoor arena in Volograd so Isinbayeva has a place to train.

After an 11-month hiatus from the sport, Isinbayeva returned to competition in February 2011, clearing 4.81m to win the Russian Winter indoor meet in Moscow. Afterward she was confident she would return to the top of the sport, saying that because of her "colossal training," that more "world records aren't just in my plans, they simply have to happen," Isinbayeva said.

Isinbayeva hoped to put her World Championships no-height performance behind her by aiming for a world indoor record at the 2010 World Indoor Championships in Doha. She cleared her opening height of 4.60m, but faltered at 4.75m 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."

Just days after failing to clear a single bar at the World Outdoor Championships in Berlin — a flop she blamed on overconfidence — Isinbayeva traveled to Zurich for the Weltklasse meeting and looked more like her normal self. She cleared 5.06m/16-7 ¼ to up her world record and notch the 27th broken world mark of her career.

To no one's surprise, Isinbayeva arrived in Berlin for the World Championships as the overwhelming gold medal favorite. Her approach to the competition was modus operandi — wait for the field to weed itself out, come into the competition at a moderate height (for her at least), clear the bar, and have the spotlight to herself to chase records. By the time she did come into the competition, at 4.75m/15-7, American Chelsea Johnson had cleared 4.65m on her first attempt, then had three failures at 4.75m, as had Germany's Silke Spiegelberg of Germany. Rogowska cleared 4.75m on her first try and Pyrek had two misses at the height. On Isinbayeva's first attempt, she planted the pole in the box but never got her hips up near the bar. She actually went under it. Still confident in her ability, Isinbayeva passed on her next attempt to force the hand of Pyrek, who responded by passing at 4.75m and sent the bar to 4.80m/15-9. Rogowska missed all three of her attempts and Pyrek was unsuccessful in her final one, leaving the gold medal ripe for Isinbayeva's plucking. But Isinbayeva raked the bar on her final jump and failed to clear a single height.

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 4.97m, then raised the bar again to 5.00m and cleared that height as well. The two marks were set at Sergei Bubka's Pole Vault Stars indoor meet in Donetsk, Ukraine, marking the sixth consecutive year she set an indoor world record in this meet.

It didn't take a whole lot for Isinbayeva to raise the bar of excellence to yet another stratosphere at the Beijing Olympics. With barely three jumps, she was able to add a gold medal and Olympic and world records to her resume, just as she had in Athens. Isinbayeva passed at most of the opening heights, letting her competition weed themselves out. When American Jenn Stuczynski and Russia's Svetlana Feofanova had settled into silver and bronze, Isinbayeva went to work. She cleared 4.85m to win the competition, jumped 4.95m to break the Olympic record, and then soared 5.05m to set her 24th career world record.

After Jenn Stuczynski won the women's pole vault at 4.92m at the U.S. Olympic Trians, she told the media she was looking forward to going to Beijing and "kicking some Russian butt." That comment lit a fire in Isinbayeva and sparked an intense rivalry. On July 11, at her first outdoor competition of the season, Rome's Golden Gala, Isinbayeva broke her own world record, clearing 5.03m, her first world record in nearly three years. 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 5.04m. 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 July 29, in Monaco, her 23rd world record.

Isinbayeva was simply brilliant during 2007, winning all 18 of her meets on the year including the 100th Millrose Games, the World Championship in Osaka and the IAAF World Athletics Final. On February 12, 2007, she broke the indoor world record with a mark of 4.93m/16-2 in Ukraine. At the same meet this February, Isinbayeva raised her world mark to 4.95m/16-2 ¾.

Isinbayeva started the 2008 season in typically spectacular style, bettering her own world indoor record in Donetsk, Ukraine. But in her next competition she surrendered her 23-competition unbeaten streak to her fierce rival Svetlana Feofanova in Bydgoszcz, Poland after failing to clear 4.81m. Her first indoor defeat in four years was partially blamed on traveling, as she had attended the Laureus World Sports Awards in St. Petersburg, Russia only 48 hours before competing in Poland.

In July 2005, Isinbayeva broke the world record four times. In Lausanne, she added an extra centimetre to her own mark clearing 4.93m/16-2. Eleven days later, in Madrid, she added an additional 2cm to the record, clearing 4.95m/16-2 ¾. Later in London she became the first woman ever to clear 5.00m/16-4 ¾, achieving the mark with a single attempt. At the World Championships in Helsinki, she pushed the world record to 5.01m/16-5 ¼ with her winning jump.

After trading world record jumps with fellow Russian Svetlana Feofanova throughout 2004, the stage was set for an epic showdown between the two bitter rivals at the Athens Olympics. Although the competition did not reach the heights that were anticipated, the rivalry between the two brought the event alive. With all of the other events finished, a captivated crowd watched as Feofanova failed at 4.90m/16-0 ¾, giving Isinbayeva gold. Isinbayeva then rubbed salt into her compatriot's wound by attempting and clearing a new world record height of 4.91m/16-1 ¼.

In August 2005, British pole vault coach Steve Rippon told the BBC that 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." Isinbayeva's high level of body control, courtesy of her gymnastics background, pays off in the "L-Phase," where it is vital for a vaulter to use the pole's rebound to convert horizontal speed into height.

Isinbayeva received a bachelor's degree after graduating from the Volgograd State Academy of Physical Culture, and is currently studying for her master's. In Russian club competitions, she represents the railroad military team. Isinbayeva is formally an officer in the Russian army, and on August 4, 2005 she was given the military rank of senior lieutenant. On her homepage, she states she is working to become a Physical Educator.

In an interview with The Guardian, Isinbayeva poked fun of the fact that female pole vaulters are seen as sex symbols for "male couch potatoes," as their slim but muscular build makes them highly attractive. In addition, she acknowledges that her rags-to-riches career, combined with her work ethic and sex symbol status, makes her somewhat similar to Maria Sharapova: "We are quite similar," Isinbayeva said. "Being famous sportswomen is not easy and her parents also sacrificed everything for her. And, like (Sharopova), the idea of being glamorous is very important to me. I always want to look like a girl. I don't agree that you are either a sportswoman or a girl. It's important that there are women who bring glamour to sport."

From the ages of 5 to 15, Isinbayeva trained as a gymnast in her hometown of Volgograd. She ultimately left the sport because as she grew older, she was considered too tall to be competitive in gymnastics, ultimately attaining a height of 5-9. In 1999, she won the pole vault at the World Youth Games in Bydgoszcz, Poland when she cleared a world youth record 4.10m/13-5 ¼. At the 2000 World Junior Championships, she cleared 4.20m/13-9 ¼ to take gold and set a world junior record.

Isinbayeva was born in a modest environment and remembers that her parents had to make many financial sacrifices in her early career. Her father, Gadzhi Gadzhiyevich Isinbayev, is a plumber and a member of a small (70,000-people strong) ethnic group of Tabasarans who mostly live in Dagestan. Her mother, a shop assistant, is an ethnic Russian. Isinbayeva also has a sister named Inna.


How tall is Yelena Isinbayeva? How old is Yelena Isinbayeva? Where does Yelena Isinbayeva live? Find out here.

Age: 34 years old
Birthday: June 5, 1982
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 146 lbs.
Birthplace: Volgograd, Russia
Current Residence: Monte Carlo, Monaco

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