Isinbayeva Falls Foul of Daegu Curse But Murer Finds Gold

      August 31, 2011 12:56

      Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia stands up on the mat during the women's pole vault final at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu on Tuesday. /Yonhap

      Yelena Isinbayeva, widely regarded as the greatest female pole vaulter of all time, had a disappointing sixth-place finish on Tuesday at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, which has so far been beset by controversies and seen no new world records set.

      The Russian sizzled out after only getting as high as 4.65 m, falling far short of the world record of 5.06 m she set at a Diamond League event in Zurich in 2009. "I felt good but I couldn't bring the right pole," she said after fishing the jumps.

      She came to Daegu full of promise and with a season's-best jump of 4.76 m under her belt. But a couple of gambles on Tuesday night definitely did not pay dividends for the woman, who, in her prime, set 27 world records.

      After failing to clear 4.70 m, she moved directly onto the 4.80-m bar rather than trying again but did not even come close to the higher distance on either of her two remaining attempts.

      Fabiana Murer cleared 4.85 m to win the gold, giving Brazil its first-ever title at the World Championships. Germany's Martina Strutz took silver and Svetlana Feofanova of Russia claimed the bronze.

      Murer, last year's World Indoor Championships winner, has apparently shaken off the jinx that ruined her life three years ago in Beijing, when she was forced to bow out of the Olympics having lost her pole.

      This time round it was her former training partner, Isinbayeva, who left under a rain cloud. But the Russian nonetheless fared better in this southern Korean city on Tuesday than sprinter Usain Bolt and Cuba's world record-holding hurdler Dayron Robles. Bolt was ejected from Sunday's 100-m final after false starting, and Robles was disqualified for tussling with China's Liu Xiang after winning Monday's 110-m final.

      More bad luck befell British sprinter Christine Ohuruogu, the reigning Olympic champion, who was disqualified for false starting in the women’s 400 m. And Australian Steve Hooker, the defending champion and Beijing Games hero, failed to advance beyond the preliminaries in the men’s pole vault.

      So has the 29-year-old Isinbayeva permanently lost her grip on the sport that she, until recently, had a vice-like grip on, or did she simply fall victim to the Daegu curse?

      After a stormy couple of years, including three failed attempts at the previous Worlds in Berlin, she was hoping to restore her reputation in Daegu. But her luck at the biennial track and field meet seems to have run out ahead of her talent.

      As if to underscore the point, she set the current world record only 11 days after crashing out of the Worlds two years ago. After a few more competitions, she complained of feeling exhausted and took a year-long layoff from the sport.

      This week will not have done her confidence any good, but Isinbayeva -- who racked up two Olympic gold medals in 2004 and 2008, and two world titles in 2005 and 2007 -- will be keen to show she is still champion material when the Olympics travel to London next year.

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