Bronze as precious as gold!Azad Majumder . London
At one side of the stadium it was all celebration in the Russian camp. Yuliya Zaripova has just won women’s 3000-metre steeplechase and took a lap of honour draped in their national flag.
But not many Russians could join her in the celebration as on the other side of the Olympic Stadium a tragedy was being unfolded that they all had been watching with sheer disbelief.
Yelena Isinbayeva, the undisputed pole vault queen and a gold medalist in Athens and Beijing, had been competing in her event in that part of the ground and was stumbling in almost her every attempt.
Her first call was 4.55-metre which she failed to clear, leaving even her competitors surprised. They all came here knowing that a silver medal would be the best reward for them as gold is decidedly allocated to the Russian.
For someone who broke her own world record 28 times alone, it was not an over-expectation. No athlete was as favourite to win his or her event as Isinbayeva, who made women’s pole vault almost synonymous to her.
But Isinbayeva at least knew it was coming. Plagued by injury, she was sensing an end of her era, so when she made her next call of 4.65 metres and cleared it in first attempt, she looked relived.
But she failed to improve
it further, falling agonisingly on couple of occasions. American Jennifer Suhr took the gold, but could jump only 4.75metres, which was not even close to the standard Isinbayeva set in Beijing with her 5.05-metre jump.
Her record remained unscathed, but Suhr could at least deny her a feat - the third successive Olympic title - something which no female athlete could achieve ever in same individual event.
Isinbayeva, however, took the consolation from the fact that she was not totally lost and despite a muscle tear in her left thigh a bronze was no less precious than a gold medal.
After she hit the crash mat for the last time, having knocked the bar off with her thigh, she got up with a big smile on her face, waved to the crowd and blew a kiss to the camera.
Asked if she is disappointed, she almost shouted later in the press conference: ‘What? I’m, so happy that I won the bronze medal.
‘Bronze is very tasty. This bronze medal is like gold to me. Over the past three years, between Beijing and London, life has not been easy for me, both physically and psychologically,’ she said.
‘I was asking myself “Why am I continuing? What for?”
‘Today, my leg was not working. I had to work with my hands. Of course it is not a fairy tale, today competing was not easy, this is why this bronze is like gold to me,’ said Isinbayeva.
Isinbayeva previously mentioned that she would quit the sport after the 2013 world championships in Russia, but the bronze gave her a new inspiration of turning it into a real gold in Rio de Janeiro.
‘My plan was to get a gold medal here in London and then retire but I don’t want to retire with a bronze medal so maybe I will think about Rio so at least I can get my gold medal there in Rio and then decide,’ Isinbayeva said.
‘Actually my decision is changing every day. I am twins - today I say “I will stop”, I will wake up tomorrow and say “I will continue,” she added jokingly, which took any disappointment she had in her face away.
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