Great Sportswomen – Yelena Isinbaeva

On 22 July 2005 Yelena Isinbaeva became the first woman to clear the historic 5.00 metre (16.4 feet) barrier in pole vault.

At the age of 27 Isinbaeva has been a nine-time major champion (Olympic, World outdoor and indoor champion and European outdoor and indoor champion).

Isinbaeva’s current world records are 5.06 m outdoors, a record Isinbaeva set in Zurich on August 28, 2009, and 5.00 m indoors, a record set at the Donetsk indoor meeting on 15 February 2009. The former was Isinbaeva’s twenty-seventh world record.

She then set another World Record later that yeasr in Zurich in August 2009, and 5.01 m indoors, a record set in February 2012.

Isinbayeva was named Female Athlete of the Year by the IAAF in 2004, 2005 and 2008, and World Sportswoman of the Year by Laureus in 2007 and 2009. She was given the Prince of Asturias Award for Sports in 2009.

Isinbayeva has been a major champion on nine occasions (Olympic, World outdoor and indoor champion and European outdoor and indoor champion). She was also the jackpot winner of the IAAF Golden League series in 2007 and 2009. After poor performances at world championships in 2009 and 2010, she took a year-long break from the sport.

Her father, Gadzhi Gadzhiyevich Isinbayev, is a plumber and a member of a small (130,000-people strong) ethnic group of Tabasaran who mostly live in Dagestan. Her mother, a shop assistant, is Russian. Isinbayeva also has a sister named Inna. Isinbayeva came from humble beginnings and remembers that her parents had to make many financial sacrifices in her early career.

She has both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree after graduating from the Volgograd State Academy of Physical Culture. Currently she is continuing her post-graduate studies there and also studying at the Donetsk National Technical University.

In the Russian club competitions she represents the railroad military team; she is formally an officer in the Russian army, and on 4 August 2005 she was given military rank of senior lieutenant before being promoted to captain in August 2008.

She features in Toshiba ads promoting their entire product line in Russia. She also appears in a Lady’s Speed Stick advertisement in Russia.

On 2 December 2010 she gave a speech before the FIFA delegates in Zürich. Later on that occasion it was announced that Russia will host the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Yelena Isinbayeva is now a member of the ‘Champions for Peace’ club, a group of 54 famous elite athletes committed to serving peace in the world through sport, created by Peace and Sport, a Monaco-based international organization.


Year Competition Venue Position Notes
1998 World Youth Games Moscow, Russia 1st
1999 World Youth Championships Bydgoszcz, Poland 1st 4.10 m (WYR)
2000 World Junior Championships Santiago, Chile 1st 4.20 m (WJR)
2001 European Junior Championships Grosseto, Italy 1st 4.40 m (CR)
2002 European Championships Munich, Germany 2nd 4.55 m
2003 World Indoor Championships Birmingham, United Kingdom 2nd 4.60 m
World Championships Paris, France 3rd 4.65 m
European U23 Championships Bydgoszcz, Poland 1st 4.65 m (CR)
2004 World Indoor Championships Budapest, Hungary 1st 4.86 m (WR)
Summer Olympics Athens, Greece 1st 4.91 m (WR)
IAAF World Athletics Final Monte Carlo, Monaco 1st
2005 European Indoor Championships Madrid, Spain 1st 4.90 m (i WR)
World Championships Helsinki, Finland 1st 5.01 m (WR)
IAAF World Athletics Final Monte Carlo, Monaco 1st
2006 World Indoor Championships Moscow, Russia 1st 4.80 m
European Championships Göteborg, Sweden 1st 4.80 m (CR)
IAAF World Athletics Final Stuttgart, Germany 1st 4.75 m
World Cup Athens, Greece 1st 4.60 m (CR)
2007 World Championships Osaka, Japan 1st 4.80 m
IAAF Golden League 6/6 Wins 1st Jackpot Winner
IAAF World Athletics Final Stuttgart, Germany 1st 4.87 m (CR)
2008 World Indoor Championships Valencia, Spain 1st 4.75 m
Summer Olympics Beijing, People’s Republic of China 1st 5.05 m (WR)
2009 World Championships Berlin, Germany final NM
IAAF Golden League 6/6 Wins 1st Jackpot winner
World Athletics Final Thessaloniki, Greece 1st 4.80 m
2010 World Indoor Championships Doha, Qatar 4th 4.60 m
2011 World Championships Daegu, South Korea 6th 4.65 m
2012 World Indoor Championships Istanbul, Turkey 1st 4.80 m

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