Tue, 08 Mar 2005

From: AFP

Isinbayeva wants to be next Bubka

Phil Minshull, Agence France-Presse/Madrid

Yelena Isinbayeva has been the star of the global indoor athletics circuit this winter and the Russian pole vaulter hit the heights with her fourth world indoor record here Sunday.

Isinbayeva cleared 4.90 meters to grab the gold medal at the European Indoor Championships.

Now, the bubbly 2004 Woman Athlete of the Year will turn her sights towards the summer.

"I want to continue to break world records. Sergei Bubka set 35 records, I want to jump 36," said Isinbayeva.

She has already made a good start with 13 world records, indoors and out, and at the age of 22, the vaulter from Volgagrad has plenty of time to add many more, if she can stay injury free.

The legendary Bubka, now an International Olympic Committee member, is now a good friend of Isinbayeva and the Ukrainian has passed on a few tips on technique.

However, Bubka wasn't always such a well-known name to Isinbayeva.

"I was a gymnast when I was younger and didn't follow athletics in my early teens when he was jumping so well. My coach, after I changed to vaulting, said I could be like Bubka

"But my first response was 'who's she?'" revealed Isinabyeva.

Isinbayeva looked like she could have added to her record tally in the Spanish capital with her soaring clearance at her winning height but she decided to call it a day at that point.

"Actually, I was very tired after a long indoor season. Now I'm going to have one or two weeks break before getting back into training."

Isinbayeva was exhausted enough to have a quick nap during the competition on Sunday, killing time while less-talented vaulters went through the motions and contested the minor medals.

"I have to come into the stadium with everybody else and then there is a long wait. I sleep a little in order to switch off," she admitted.

The magical height of five meters is now on her mind, and it could easily be broken this summer.

Isinbayeva says that she has cleared the height in training.

"And I'm sure I can do it in competition. Everybody asks me why I only increase my records centimeter-by-centimeter, just like they used to ask Bubka, and the reason is that a world record requires a lot of effort.

"But I feel sure I'll get to five meters soon."

Isinbayeva now is on top of the world in every respect, having