Elena Isinbaeva of Russia is the current Olympic women’s pole vault champion and current world record holder in the event. She has topped the event in the past two Olympiads and will be aiming for a third consecutive gold in London.
Isinbaeva shifted to athletics at the age of 16 after she grew too tall to be a gymnast, which was what she originally trained to be. She quickly showed her aptitude for her new sport by winning a gold medal in just her third tournament, the World Youth Games. By 2003, she had already set her first world record.
A year later, Isinbaeva was battling against compatriot Svetlana Feofanova for the gold medal in Athens. She cleared 4.91 meters, a world record at the time, and secured the gold when Feofanova failed to clear 4.90 in her last attempt. A year later, she set another world record, becoming the first female athlete to clear 5.01 meters. In Beijing, she won her second Olympic gold, although she needed two vaults to set another world record of 5.05 meters.
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