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Olympics: Isinbayeva braced for golden close-up

06 august 2012, 16:47
0
Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva. ©AFP
Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva. ©AFP
Russian diva Yelena Isinbayeva goes for a third Olympic gold medal on Monday, aiming to prove she remains the undisputed queen of women's pole vaulting, AFP reports.

The 30-year-old world record holder, who has suffered some bitter defeats during the last three seasons, sailed through qualification, needing only two vaults to secure safe passage to the final.

Isinbayeva failed to record a height in a tear-stained 2009 world championships in Berlin and came just sixth in last year's worlds in South Korea.

But at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, she became the first athlete to win consecutive individual gold medals with world records -- her 5.05m in the Chinese capital following a 4.91m in Athens four years earlier.

She has since improved the world mark to 5.06m.

After Sunday's magical night which saw Usain Bolt storm to a successful defence of his 100m title, Isinbayeva will be the star attraction and expected to cruise to gold after world champion Fabiana Murer and Svetlana Feofanova, who won silver in Athens and bronze in Beijing, all failed to qualify.

"I jumped well, but the weather was difficult for pole vaulting," Isinbayeva said of the swirling winds inside the Olympic Stadium after Saturday's qualifying.

"But I feel really confident for the final. I feel in top form."

Australian world champion Sally Pearson is equally positive ahead of Monday's 100m hurdles heats.

Pearson has emerged as the dominant force in women's short hurdles, racing the fourth fastest time ever (12.28sec) in winning world gold last year.

"If it all goes to plan I should be winning, especially as my personal best is much better than theirs," she said.

Women's golds will also be decided in the women's shot put, with New Zealand's defending world and Olympic champion Valerie Adams the big favourite.

However, it emerged on Monday that Adams' dream was almost shattered by blundering officials who forgot to put her name on the entry list.

"The matter was dealt with swiftly and has been fully resolved," said an embarrassed New Zealand Olympic committee spokesman.

Grenada's world champion Kirani James will be amongst the favourites for the 400m final especially after defending champion LaShawn Merritt failed to make it out of the heats.

But Puerto Rico's Javier Culson remains the man to beat.

Eighteen golds will be decided on Monday.

One of those will be in the velodrome where Britain's Jason Kenny and Frenchman Gregory Bauge are set to duel for the men's sprint.

Kenny was the silver medallist in Beijing while Bauge is a three-time world champion.

The women's football finalists will be decided when World Cup winners Japan tackle France at Wembley and defending champions the United States meet Canada at Old Trafford. The US are the two-time defending champions.

Coming off their toughest challenge of the Olympics, the US NBA Dream Team face Argentina to decide a top seeding for the medal playoff quarter-finals that begin on Wednesday.

A last-eight date with Australia awaits the US NBA multi-millionaires if they defeat the South American squad led by NBA San Antonio Spurs star Manu Ginobili, who helped Argentina claim 2004 Olympic gold.

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