US Olympic Track & Field Team 2012: Pole Vault Women Must Top Yelena Isinbayeva

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US Olympic Track & Field Team 2012: Pole Vault Women Must Top Yelena Isinbayeva
Ian Walton/Getty Images

Yelena Isinbayeva is not just the best women's pole vaulter in the world—she's the best of all time.

Isinbayeva has dominated the sport for over a decade. She's broken world records for indoor and outdoor pole vaulting a total of 27 times and has won two Olympic gold medals (2004, 2008).

However, the U.S. Olympic track and field team is looking to find a way to beat her and take the gold in women's pole vaulting.

It's a tall order to top the woman who rewrote the record book, but Lacy Johnson, Becky Holliday and Jenn Suhr have the ability to challenge her.

Isinbayeva has been slumping in recent years. After an 11-month hiatus which was followed by a wrist injury, she has been working her way back, but her numbers have suffered. While she has remained the best in the world, she now has challengers who could topple her in London, including the Americans.

Isinbayeva's struggles began after setting another world record with a 5.06-meter vault on August 28, 2009.

When she came back in 2011 she recorded a 4.76m jump, which was the worst she had jumped since 2002. While it seemed like she just needed more training, she did not improve a year later, vaulting 4.75m on July 10 of this year.

She has kept winning in major meets, but she has a pack of competitors on her heels, including American Jenn Suhr.

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Suhr was the silver medalist at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, finishing behind only Isinbayeva. Now she is trying to take home a gold medal, and she has a legitimate chance to do so.

The U.S. team has three good vaulters who all recorded a jump of at least 4.50 meters, and Suhr finished with 4.60m to take first.

While Suhr is still 0.15m behind Isinbayeva in their most recent jumps, Suhr has proven that she can do much better. Her personal best and American record of 4.92m would be more than enough to take home gold this year.

At 30 years old she is competing in what will probably be her last Games. This is her last, and best chance to win it all at the Olympics, but she the road to gold runs through Isinbayeva.

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