Bubka's medal hopes poleaxed by injury

Sergei Bubka, the world's greatest pole vaulter, walked slowly from the Olympic arena yesterday after an Achilles tendon injury prevented him taking part in the qualifying competition.

The 32-year-old Ukrainian who has set 35 world records, said: "For me, it is a tragedy." A desperate blow to the Games.

Bubka was clearly unhappy in the pole vaulting area and held an animated conversation with his brother, Vassily, who is taking part in the first qualifying group.

A few minutes later, still wearing his red and white tracksuit, Bubka strode towards the stadium tunnel accompanied by an official. The PA announcement that he had withdrawn did not come until he had disappeared from view. Speaking at a press conference, Bubka explained that he had put his injury to the test earlier in the morning.

"When I started to jog there was pain," he said, struggling to contain his emotions. "I knew I could not run and if you can't run you can't jump. I'm a good fighter but the pain was just too big. For me it is a tragedy. I have pain in my ankle and in my heart as well."

He incurred his latest injury a month ago, and had been having injections and pills in an effort to counteract it. Bubka who won the Olympic title in 1988, was anxious to erase the memory of his last Olympic performance in Barcelona where he failed to clear a height. It was not to be.

The man who has come closest to Bubka's world record of 6.15m, the South African Okkert Brits, went out after three failures at 5.60. Brits, whose best is 6.03, buried his face in a towel and sat with heaving shoulders.

The Welsh vaulter Neil Winter was unable to reproduce his Commonwealth Games heroics on the Olympic stage as both he and the new British No 1, Nick Buckfield, failed to qualify for the final.

Winter, who surprisingly won in Victoria two years ago, and his team- mate both cleared 5.40m but they failed with their three attempts when the bar was raised to 5.60m.

Ireland's Games, which began with a startling shower of gold from their swimmer Michelle Smith, have taken a dramatic turn for the worse on the track. Sonia O'Sullivan, who came into these games with the prospect of winning gold at 5000 or 1500 metres, or even both, left with nothing yesterday.

Ireland's world 5000m champion trailed home 10th and last in her 1500m heat, still suffering from the stomach bug which caused her to drop out of the 5000m final on Sunday night. "I just had no energy," she said. "I suppose it's all over now." Asked if she was disappointed, she replied: "That's the understatement of the year," before leaving the stadium.

O'Sullivan said she was suffering from the beginning of a stomach upset when she ran in the 5,000m heats on Friday night, and had woken repeatedly on Sunday night soaked to the skin with sweat. With 450 metres of her heat remaining, she had been well placed, but then the field streamed past her in the space of 50 metres. It was a desperately sad end for a runner who appeared on the brink of greatness.

Kelly Holmes confirmed she was suffering from a hairline fracture in her left leg, but she is determined to pursue the 1500m gold medal. The injury, initially diagnosed as the early signs of a fracture, did not prevent her from qualifying for tomorrow's semi-finals.

The 26-year-old army sergeant again needed a pain-killing injection in her leg before running just as she did before, finishing fourth in the 800m on Monday. "The leg was hurting when I was warming up so I had another injection," the fitness instructor said. "But I will give it my all. These are the Olympics and I have been training for them for four years so I am not going to pull out of them now."

Holmes, a world championship 1500m silver medallist last year, added: "I have got as good a chance of winning as anybody. My season is over after this anyway so I might as well carry on. I feel a lot more confident about the 1500 after coming through the 800."

Holmes cruised into the next round after finishing second in her heat behind Romania's Gabriela Szabo in a time of 4min 07.32sec. Her hopes of winning a first Olympic medal were helped by the absence of two of her main rivals, O'Sullivan and Mozambique's Maria Mutola, who took the bronze medal in the 800 and decided not to compete in the longer event. However, Algeria's defending champion Hassiba Boulmerka - the woman who beat Holmes to the world title last year - is still favourite after comfortably negotiating her first race.

Britain's Olympic 400m hurdles champion, Sally Gunnell, will make no immediate decision on her future after failing to finish in Monday's semi- finals. Gunnell was to have a bone scan yesterday on the left foot which she injured in Lausanne this month.

Asked if she intended to retire, Gunnell, who was 30 on Monday, said she was keeping her options open. "I really don't know," she said. "I can't sit here and say one way or the other. I really have to go away and look at my options.

"Five minutes after it happened I thought, `that's it'. I had had two years of injury problems, but that was the closest I came to calling it a day. I still love the sport, but at the moment I just don't know if I can cope with fighting my way back again."

More reports, pages 26 and 27, Results, page 27

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
musicKate Bush asks fans not to take photos at London gigs
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing & Commnunications Executive, London

£30000 - £34000 per annum: Charter Selection: This highly successful organisat...

C# .NET Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript HTML, CSS) Finance

£60000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Develo...

MI Analyst-Reporting-Bank-Edinburgh-£260/day

£230 - £260 per day + competitive: Orgtel: MI Analyst-Reporting-Bank-Edinburgh...

Junior Database developer (SQL, T-SQL, Excel, SSRS, Crystal rep

£25000 - £30000 per annum + bonus+benefits+package: Harrington Starr: Junior D...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment