Athletics: Yelena's ambitions reach a new height

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"I will be trying for another world record in Stockholm," the Russian pole-vaulter said, casting her sights ahead to her next competition, in the IAAF Grand Prix meeting in the Swedish capital on Tuesday. "I will try for 5.01m. I hope to jump higher in Stockholm and at the World Champion-ships in Helsinki."

Now that she has achieved the women's pole-vaulting equivalent of the four-minute mile - having cleared first 4.96m, then 5.00m for her 16th and 17th world records in south London - the question is how far Isinbayeva can push up her new frontier.

"I think it's possible to make the difference between the men's and the women's world record just one metre," the world and Olympic champion ventured to suggest. With Sergei Bubka's male record at 6.15m, that would put the ultimate target of the 23-year-old Isinbayeva at 5.15m.

For the time being, though, the woman from Volgograd can bask in the satisfaction of having surmounted a peak it took the world's male vaulters until 1963 to scale. The American Brian Sternberg cleared 5.00m in Philadelphia in April that year. Three months later he broke his neck while training on a trampoline and has been paralysed ever since.

For Isinbayeva on Friday, there was the added pleasure of achieving her feat in the presence of Bubka, the Ukrain-ian whose vaulting ambition took him to a total of 35 world records. "You know, Bubka is a legend, because he was the first man over six metres," she said, "and now I am a legend too, because I am the first woman over five."

In taking her giant leap for female vaulting kind, Isinbayeva collected bonuses of around $100,000 (£57,000). "Everyone should understand Yelena is not interested in money," her manager, Pavel Voronkov, insisted. "She is not a money machine. She is a world record machine."