Beijing, Aug 19: Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia put in yet another masterful display of high-class pole vaulting here on Monday to better her own world record on the way to defending Olympic gold.
The reigning double world and triple European champion cleared 5.05m, 1cm higher than her own world record of 5.04m set in Monaco last month.The height was also a massive 25cm higher than her closest competitor in an event she has completely dominated for the last four years and in which she has rarely been tested by rivals.The 26-year-old has been the world record holder since July 2004 and has now raised the bar on 24 occasions, although until last month she had not broken the outdoor mark since 2005.
"I love to be alone at the top," said Isinbayeva. "It's so cool and I will try to keep my position as long as possible."
She added that she still believed in what she said after she won the world title in Osaka last year that no one could beat her but herself.
"I like to prove it, not just say it. I like to prove who is the best and who is the strongest."
Worringly for her competitors, Isinbayeva said she thought she could go higher.
"I don't know how high I can go," she said. "My coach says I can go 5.20m or higher and I trust him."
Isinbayeva, a former Russian Army lieutenant, had seen her 23-meet win streak snapped indoors at Poland earlier this year by Russian rival Svetlana Feofanova, the 2004 Olympic runner-up and a former world record holder.
But she only entered the competition at the National Stadium here at 4.70m, when there were only four other vaulters still in with a chance. Seven others had crashed out at sub-4.70m heights.
She passed twice at 4.75m and 4.80m before easily vaulting 4.85m. She then set a new Olympic record of 4.95m after failing twice at that height.
Burying herself under a duvet between vaults, the Volgograd-born athlete, who trained as a gymnast, cleared 5.05m at her third attempt.