Aging Isinbayeva, Vlasic aim to defy the odds

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Aging Isinbayeva, Vlasic aim to defy the odds

DAEGU - Russian pole vault queen Yelena Isinbayeva has returned from a self-imposed exile in search of gold today at the Worlds.

Isinbayeva’s dominance in her event ended in shame when she no-heighted at the 2009 edition. The 29-year-old raised her own world record to 5.06 meters shortly afterwards but virtually disappeared after that in a bid to reassess her career.

Meanwhile, Blanka Vlasic is ready to defy a thigh injury and seek a third straight high jump world title this week as part of her strategy to leave her mark on the sport.

The 27-year-old Croat said on Monday that she made the tough decision to compete in Daegu 10 days ago despite not being at her best because the nagging injury “can’t get worse.”

“I had huge problems in winter and in the season also. The injuries were severe enough to throw me off balance,” she said, “I was struggling with the decision to compete here, but I didn’t want to have regrets.”

“I want to leave a mark that people remember me not only for winning once or jumping high once. Everyone remembers those who are on the scene a long time. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.”

Vlasic has ruled the women’s jump over recent years with World titles in 2007 and 2009, and reportedly has cleared the two-meter mark 99 times in her career, with a personal best at 2.08 meters.

But this year she has cleared two meters only once and is seven centimeters behind season leader Anna Chicherova of Russia (2.07 meters) going into the Daegu final on Saturday.

However, Vlasic is still out to better the 24-year-old world record of 2.09 meters from Stefka Kostadinova and wants an Olympic gold as well at next year’s London Games.

“The world record and Olympic gold are unfulfilled ambitions. There is no preference, I am not picky,” she said.

“I still expect good things to come in the future. I am on the right track and hope to be better than ever.”

Other highlights today are the men’s 800-meter final, featuring Kenyan world record holder David Rudisha, the men’s discus, women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase and the completion of the women’s heptathlon, in which Briton Jessica Ennis is tipped to repeat.

With South African double-amputee Oscar Pistorius not expected in tonight’s 400-meter final, and Jeremy Wariner injured, American LaShawn Merritt, back from a doping ban, looks the top pick.

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