Russian pole vault legend Yelena Isinbayeva said that she had postponed plans to retire as she finished with Olympic bronze after an injury hampered preparation for the London Games.

The 30-year-old, who was foiled in her bid to seal a historic hat-trick of Olympic titles, had yesterday said she was not prepared to end her career after settling for third place between American Jennifer Suhr and Cuba’s Yarisley Silva.

“If I thought I was going home with the bronze, I might not have come. I’m always fighting for the gold,” Isinbayeva said.

“But the bronze medal is very tasteful,” beamed the Volgograd-born vaulter, who has long dominated the event and whose lissom looks have combined with her ability to make her as one of the most recognisable faces of global athletics.

She finished third here with a best of 4.70m as Suhr took gold with 4.75m on countback from Silva in a competition made tricky by rainy conditions.

“This bronze medal is like a gold, because in the past three years from Beijing through to London, I have had a lot of difficulties to face,” Isinbayeva said.

The Russian, who was also a world champion in 2005 and 2007, said a troubled season had led her to consider her future.

“I said to myself “why continue?’’, everything seemed impossible.

“My plan was to get gold and retire after London. But I’m not going to retire with a bronze.

“I’ll think about Rio (Olympics in 2016), get my gold medal and then retire.”

Isinbayeva said she hoped to bounce back from two disastrous showings in the 2009 and 2011 world championships — she failed to record a height in Berlin and was sixth in Daegu — when the championships are held in Moscow in two years’ time.

“Luckily enough, I have enough time to prepare for the 2013 world championships in Moscow. That’s very important for Russia because it’s the first time it’s the host,” Isinbayeva said.

“Of course, I’ll participate and will try to get the gold medal.”

But she warned that her decision on her future was not set in stone.

“My decision is changing every day. Today I say I’ll stop, then I wake up tomorrow, and I say I’ll continue.”

Suhr, who claimed silver behind Isinbayeva in Beijing, said she had learned valuable lessons at the 2008 Games, adding that Isinbayeva’s presence was always a spur.

“Beijing taught me so much,” said Suhr. “It gave me the experience to come out.

“And when Yelena’s in the field you know she raises the bar, literally.

“You have to be on your game and you have to execute.

It’s an honour to be on top, there’s a lot of respect there.”

(This article was published on August 7, 2012)
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