•  Isinbayeva finally gives birth to her 'baby' in Istanbul
    Isinbayeva finally gives birth to her 'baby' in Istanbul © Victah Sailer
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European Athletics (EAA) - News - Isinbayeva finally gives birth to her 'baby' in Istanbul

Three gold medals went to European athletes on the final day at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul on Sunday.

Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva confirmed her return to the top of the global rankings in the women's pole vault, Greece's Dmitrios Chonrokoukis upset the odds and won the men's high jump while Great Britain's women's 4x400m relay team triumphed over the more favoured United States and Russian teams.

Isinbayeva dominated her event in similar fashion to her big time appearances during her halcyon years between 2004 and 2006, when she was unbeaten at any major championships, including three World Indoor Championships.

She was the last person to enter the competition in Istanbul, clearing 4.70m at the first time of asking.
Two other women also cleared that height, France's Vanessa Boslak and Great Britain's 2011 European Athletics U23 Championships gold medallist Holly Bleasdale, who were to eventually take the silver and bronze medals respectively.

However, neither woman could get over the next height of 4.75m, which Isinbayeva had audaciously passed and when she then went sailing clear at 4.80m and global title was once again in Isinbayeva's hands.

She then had the bar put up to 5.02m, a one centimetre improvement on her latest world indoor record she set in Stockholm last month, but had three unsuccessful attempts.

"I was waiting for this victory like a mother is waiting to give birth to her baby. It was very important for me," said the delighted Russian.

"The last three years showed me how important it is for me to win. I am as happy as if it was the first time I had won a big title. I had to wait two hours before my first attempt but I am not really surprised that I only needed two jumps to win.

I am confident that I am in a great shape, I feel great. Today I understand better what I achieved in the past, how great this was and is," she added.

Isinbayeva was surprisingly Russia's only gold medal at the Championships.

Another event where there were high expectations that there was going to be a Russian was the men's high jump but Greece's Dmitrios Chonrokoukis rose above his own, and many other people's, expectations to take the gold medal and leave 2008 Olympic champion Andriy Silnov and two-time European Athletics Indoor Championships gold medallist Ivan Ukhov having to settle for the silver and bronze medals respectively.

Both Chonrokoukis and Silnov cleared 2.33m, but the Greeks first time clearance clinched the title when both men failed to negotiate 2.35m.

"I did not expect to win at all and beat all these Olympic and world champions. Am surprised? Of course! I didn't expect even a medal; that is not being pessimistic, just realist. There were a lot of jumpers with best heights this winter than me. It was a very hard competition and I am grateful to have jumped a new personal best when it counted. A lot of guys came here from Greece and their cheering really helped me," reflected a slightly stunned Chonrokoukis.

In arguably one of the closest and most thrilling track races of a weekend, a hugely motivated quartet from Great Britain & Northern Ireland just edged the United States in the women's 4x400m relay to claim its first medal of any kind in the event at a World Indoor Championships.
British anchor leg runner Perri Shakes-Drayton crossed the line in 3:28.76, a mere three-hundredths ahead of the American individual 400m winner Sanya Richards-Ross.

The crucial leg, in many respects was run by Britain's 2008 Olympic 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu on the third leg. A distant third when she got the baton, she reeled in Russia's Marina Karnaushchenko first before then overtaking the United States' Jernail Hayes to give the Britons a clear lead heading into the anchor leg.

"We just had to try. You can do anything, but you just have to try," commented the exhausted British heroine Ohuruogu.


Russia, who has won eight of the past nine titles in the event, had to settle for bronze on this occasion in 3:29.55.

Another 10 medals were won by European athletes on Sunday but perhaps two stand out above the rest, the silver medals won in the 800m races by Czech Republic's Jakub Holusa and Ukraine's Natalia Lupu.
Neither runner would have featured on the majority of pundits' pre-championship medal picks but, in a championships replete with surprises, both rose admirably to the occasion.

Lupu, a former European junior champion, ran an inspired race and lay third with 100m to go. She took the long way round off the final bend to sprint into second place, crossing the line in a personal best of 1:59.67 to finish second behind the Kenyan winner Pamela Jelimo.

Holusa, also had to settle for second best behind and African runner, in this case Ethiopia's Mohammed
Aman, but showed great tenacity to get second in a four-way battle for the line.

He clocked 1:48.62, "But this time doesn't matter. I think this was the greatest race of my career. I only started to believe I could get a medal after a good run in the semi-finals so this still seems like a dream."

Full event-by-event reports can be found here.

European Athletics (EAA) - News