Yelena Isinbayeva is widely considered to be the best female pole vaulter in the world. The 29-year-old holds 27 world records and is a gold medal favorite heading into the London Olympics. Because of her infamous routine during competition, many of Isinbayeva’s opponents do not think very highly of her.
During the early rounds of pole vaulting competitions, Isinbayeva does not watch her opponents. Instead, she remains off to the side of the competition area and wraps herself in blankets and towels, completely ignoring the rest of the vaulters and resting until it is her turn. British vaulter Holley Bleasdale, who broke the British pole vaulting record at the Olympic trials, recently had some harsh words for Isinbayeva when discussing her routine.
“I’ve seen Isinbayeva do that, looks like a tramp on a street corner,” Bleasdale told the Daily Express. “I do think it’s disrespectful to us. She keeps herself to herself. I try to ignore her, just do my own stuff, concentrate on me.
“Isinbayeva comes into a competition really late, tries to psyche everyone out. It’s her plan. She wants us to say, ‘Oh, look, she’s not bothered’, but it doesn’t work with me. If you want to lie there and have a towel on your head, it’s all right. It is a bit weird.”
Bleasdale said she tries to chat with the other vaulters and learn something while she awaits her turn, but Isinbayeva seems bored and disinterested with her fellow competitors. Not only is Bleasdale not intimidated by the world champion, she is very confident she can take her down in London.
“I really want to jump against Isinbayeva,” she said. “I’m in better shape than when I’ve competed against her before and I could challenge her and win. I’d be silly not to seize the opportunity and beat Isinbayeva now. I don’t see why not. I am really confident that women can jump much higher than (she) ever has.”
For those who enjoy a good controversy heading into the Olympic Games, we have had plenty of that this year. Between Bleasdale’s comments about Isinbayeva and the unfriendly things Tyler Clary had to say about Michael Phelps, there has been no shortage of Olympic smack talk leading up to London.