Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva turned the Bird's Nest stadium into her theatre today with a gold medal and world record-breaking pole vault performance that enchanted the 91,000 crowd. Isinbayeva, the current world champion, comfortably claimed Olympic gold and then, with her medal secure, set a world best of 5.05 metres. Jennifer Stuczynski of the United States won the silver medal with 4.80m and Russian Svetlana Feofanova took the bronze with a best jump of 4.75m.
The track events over, the crowd focused their attention on Isinbayeva's solo performance and roared their appreciation as she cleared the bar at the third and final attempt to beat her own world record of 5.04m set in Monte Carlo last month. "I felt like I was an actress and all the stadium was just for me," Isinbayeva said with a smile. For the earlier part of the competition, the striking 26-year-old did indeed give off the air of an uninterested Greta Garbo, as she lay alone under a sheet, entirely comfortable in the knowledge she had more than her rivals.
"I love to be alone at the top it's so cool I'd like to keep my position as long as possible," she said. The Russian did not take her first jump until 4.70. Her second, at 4.85m, was enough for her to retain her Olympic title. With the gold medal assured, Isinbayeva moved the bar up to 4.95, making it on the third effort, before choosing to go for the world record. Isinbayeva first broke the world record in 2003 in Gateshead, England, when she cleared 4.82 metres and, apart from two occasions when Feofanova took over at the top, she has remained queen of the pole since, regularly upping the record. * Reuters