A night at the pole vault with Russian goddess Yelena Isinbayeva

A night at the pole vault with Russian goddess Yelena IsinbayevaBeijingĀ  - A night at the pole vault with Yelena Isinbayeva is like a flirt with an unreachable goddess on a world stage.

If 100m world record holder Usain Bolt is called "The chilled out flying machine" then Isinbayeva has every right to be called "The attention-craving vaulting queen."

The Russian has not only redefined gravity as she moves higher and higher into orbit - she also had the whole of China wrapped around her finger as she soared a world record 5.05m for Olympic gold in Beijing on Monday night.

But first the 26-year-old blew kisses into the camera and showed off her dark red fingernails at the pre-competition presentation. That alone drew the biggest roar of the day.

Isinbayeva then disappeared for an hour or so while 11 others engaged in a supporting act, the fight for silver and bronze.

She eventually jumped 4.70m to join three others left in the field and was gone again.

She even brought her own blanket under which she buried herself. The crowd may have feared it was being teased but Isinbayeva said it was to enable her to concentrate.

"I like it and want to keep it. I try to keep my concentration," she said of the almost duvet-like cover.

If the blanket got too warm she simply pulled her baseball cap deep down into her face. She also covered her face with a towel.

Her next height was 4.85m and she cleared it right away. There was a big smile which soon became even bigger when her last rivals were eliminated and Isinbayeva was assured of another major title.

By now the crowd was on its knees, begging for more.

Isinbayeva obliged, of course she did. But not the world record, came first - for maximum suspense it was a jump of 4.95m.

The crowd went into raptures when the gold medallist finally cleared that height on her third and final try.

With only the world record left, Isinbayeva had the entire stadium at her feet. After all, the clever 4.95m detour assured her that all the other events had finished by then.

The first attempt was not good, the second slightly better, and the final one brought the record. Isinbayeva yelled out her delight and the crowd roared its approval as she blew kisses on her lap of honour, wrapped in the Russian flag.

Isinbayeva then disappeared for an endless TV marathon as the curtain finally came down.

The Chinese were happy again a few hours after the disappointing withdrawal of their hurdles star Liu Xiang.

"I was trying to do my best for the crowd. It makes me happy, so happy. I felt that I could not go out without the world record because of the support the crowd gave me."

"I love to be alone at the top. It is cool and I want to keep it as long as possible," she said.

Monday's was the 24th world record for Isinbayeva and she needs only 12 more to break the 35 records mighty Sergei Bubka achieved in the men's pole vault. Isinbayeva set no record in 2006 and 2007 but is now back on track with the third record alone this year.

"Yes I will do it. I have just 12 more to go. Life would be boring without world records so I want to continue forever.

"Only the sky is my limit," she said, beaming her famous smile. (dpa)


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