By: Joe Battaglia, NBC Olympics
Oh, Holly Bleasdale.
Hasn’t anyone schooled you on the history of the pole vault as it pertains to Yelena Isinbayeva?
Following an unceremonious season debut at the Diamond League Herculis meeting in Monaco in which Isinbayeva did what she always does – lay around and wait for her underlings to go out of the competition before coming in at a higher bar – only this time, she failed to clear that opening bar herself (which she has also done in the past), the young and rising British vaulter made the cardinal mistake of calling out the Russian great before the Olympics.
More specifically, she called her a “tramp.”
No she didn’t?!
Uh, yes she did.
This is what the 20-year-old Bleasdale told the Daily Express of Isinbayeva’s cocoon ritual: “I’ve seen Isinbayeva do that, looks like a tramp on a street corner. I do think it’s disrespectful to us. “She keeps herself to herself. I try to ignore her, just do my own stuff, and concentrate on me.
“Isinbayeva comes into a competition really late, tries to psyche everyone out. It’s her plan. She wants us to say, ‘Oh, look, she’s not bothered’, but it doesn’t work with me.
“If you want to lie there and have a towel on your head, it’s all right. It is a bit weird.
“In between jumps I watch the others and see if I can learn something and chat with the other girls. Going into ‘my own zone’, like they say, just bores me, puts me off.
“I really want to jump against Isinbayeva. I’m in better shape than when I’ve competed against her before and I could challenge her and win.”
This isn’t the first time that one of Isinbayeva’s competitors let their feelings or exuberance get the better of their mouth.
Four years ago, after American Jenn Suhr won the U.S. Olympic Trials with an American-record clearance of 4.92m/16-1 ¾, she made the mistake of saying that she was looking forward to “kicking some Russian butt” in Beijing.
Isinbayeva took the comment as an affront, beating Suhr handily in two head-to-head meetings before the Games and then needing only two jumps to win the gold in Beijing. For point of emphasis, she raised the bar to a world-record 5.05m/16-6¾, and cleared it.
Now, we all know that Isinbayeva is not the dominant vaulter she was back then as her struggles since Beijing have been well documents, but she is still the only woman ever to clear five meters, indoors or outdoors, so the ability to turn that dominance on at the slightest provocation is still there.
Bleasdale might soon learn that she should have just let sleeping dogs lie.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.