World Championships 2013: Yelena Isinbayeva goes from barmy to bigoted with anti-gay tirade
Thursday 15 August 2013
The evening session on day six of the World Championships got off to a curious, combustible start. Prior to stepping out into the arena at the Luzhniki Stadium to receive the pole vault gold medal to which she laid claim on Tuesday, Yelena Isinbayeva visited the press conference room and set about condemning homosexuality, whilst criticising Swedish athletes who competed with fingernails painted in rainbow colours in protest at Russia's new anti-gay laws.
"If we allow to promote and do all this stuff on the street, we are very afraid about our nation because we consider ourselves like normal, standard people," she said. "We just live with boys with woman, woman with boys."
The queen of the pole vault has never been a shrinking violet – part sporting genius, part diva, part mad as a bag of Russian spanners. Her outburst drew a swift response from Nick Symmonds, the American who dedicated his 800m silver medal to his gay friends. "It blows my mind that such a young, well-travelled, well-educated woman would be so behind the times," he said. "She said 'normal, standard people' in Russia? Guess what: a lot of these people with Russian citizenship are normal, standard homosexuals. They deserve rights too."
After Isinbayeva collected her gold medal and departed, her words leaving a vapour trail of indignation in her wake, the competitive stage in the 1980 Olympic Stadium was left to some other rather idiosyncratic souls.
The men's high jump final featured Ivan Ukhov, the Russian who was reprimanded for his slapstick attempts to compete while drunk on vodka and Red Bull in Lausanne in 2008, and Erik Kynard, the American fond of jumping with a paper crown on his head.
Then there was Robbie Grabarz, the Briton who didn't blanch when the gay magazine Attitude asked him to pose naked last year. He simply covered his modesty with a Union flag and laughed at the inevitable queries about his sexuality. "I find it interesting if people want to speculate and I'm happy for them to talk," Grabarz said. "If you ask me I'll skirt around it."
All three finished on the podium at London 2012 – Ukhov taking gold, Kynard the silver and Grabarz a joint bronze. This time it was different.
Grabarz has endured a disappointing post-Olympic year ("It's been crap, really") and bombed out after clearing 2.29m at the second attempt, finishing eighth. Kynard was fifth with 2.32m.And Ukhov was pushed out of the podium places in his home town when Bohdan Bondarenko, roared on by a raucous Ukrainian contingent, soared over 2.41m to break Javier Sotomayor's 20-year-old championship record and claim victory.
Bondarenko then had the bar raised to 2.46m, 1cm above the world record height set by the Cuban Sotomayor in Salamanca in 1993. Sadly, the 23-year-old dislodged the upright with all three attempts. Still, he claimed the gold, with Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar and Derek Drouin of Canada occupying the minor medal positions.
As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”
Latest in Sport
Mario Balotelli to Liverpool: Best memes as Twitter reacts to imminent £16m transfer
Manchester United transfer news: Louis van Gaal joins Arsenal and Chelsea in the race for Sami Khedira
Mario Balotelli takes 50 per cent pay cut to join Liverpool as Samuel as Eto’o waits in the wings if deal falls through
Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
Click here for the full story." title="When a youngster asked for an autograph outside Manchester City's training ground, Balotelli demanded to know why the boy was playing truant. After the child revealed he was being bullied, Balotelli drove the boy and his mother to the school in question so he could tackle the bully himself. He demanded to see the headmaster to make him aware of the issue and then mediated between the two boys to resolve the problem. A source said: 'Mario feels strongly about bullying.' Click here for the full story." width="88" height="52" />Mario Balotelli: The funniest stories
- 1 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 2 Mother fed her daughter tapeworms to make her skinny for pageant
- 3 Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
- 4 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Market Administrator (1st line Support, Trade Fl...
£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Dire...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Data Support Analyst (Linux, Solaris, Windows Se...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Helpdesk Support Engineer (Windows, MS Office, E...