Yelena Isibayeva was able to win in Rio, despite being banned from competing. Yelena Isibayeva was given a huge tribute by her fellow athletes. She has been elected to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athlete’s Commission.
This tribute is well deserved. Yelena Isibayeva has always competed “clean” and has spoken about for years against doping. Yet despite this, she was included in a blanket ban of Russian athletes from Rio.
Yelea Isibayeva came to Rio to accept her new position on the IOC, and to announce her retirement from pole vaulting.
It is a shame she was not allowed to compete in what would have been her final Olympics. When she heard of her ban Yelena said that whoever wins the event “will be second by default.”
Much as we like Yelena, this is a very snarky comment. However, it does point out the blanket ban on Russian athletes partially takes away the thrill of victory for the medal winners. Ekaterini Stefanidi of Greece won the Gold Medal. Could Yelena have beaten her? We will never know. And the worst part is that Ekaterini Stefanidi and Yelena Isibayeva will never really know what would have happened either.
The one good part about all this controversy is that it helps highlight the incredible athletic accomplishments of all the female pole vaulters. Sandi Morris of the United States won the Silver, and Eliza McCartney of New Zealand won Bronze.
We at East Cost Stories continue to wish Yelena Isibayeva the very best. Her next challenge is her quest to become the head of the Russian Athletic Federation. A few days ago we did not think she had a chance. However, maybe now that she is on the IOC Athletes’ Commission that prestige will help her in election in Russia.
One thing is for sure. Never underestimate Yelena Isibayeva.