Russia’s biggest track and field star gave the home crowd plenty to cheer about at the World Championships on Tuesday.
Yelena Isinbayeva, the diva of pole vaulting, won her third world title in what may have been her final competition. With all of Isinbayeva’s clearances, Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow erupted with flag-waving Russian fans.
She won with a 4.89-meter clearance, then attempted and failed at what would have been a new world record height of 5.07 and did cartwheels on her victory lap.
Olympic champion Jenn Suhr of the U.S. took silver at 4.82, and Cuban Yarisley Silva took bronze at the same height.
World Track and Field Championships broadcast schedule
Isinbayeva, 31, said last month that she would retire after the World Championships but backtracked over the weekend.
“I’ll start a family, I’ll give birth and I’ll try and return and reclaim all my gold medals,” she told R-Sport. “If it doesn’t work out, then I’ll announce my retirement. Right now I’m not leaving. I’m taking another break because I want to have children. I’ll definitely miss the next season, and after that we’ll see.”
Isinbayeva, the 2004 and 2008 Olympic champion and world record holder, bounced back from her bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics, where she was dethroned by Suhr. Silva may have been the favorite coming in as the world leader for 2013.
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Los Angeles Lakers point guard José Calderón retired from Spain’s national team after playing in his fourth Olympics in Rio.
Calderón, 34, earned silver medals in 2008 and 2012 and bronze in 2016 for Spain, which lost to the U.S. in the medal rounds at each of the last three Olympics.
Calderón is one of five Spaniards to play in the last four Olympic tournaments, along with Pau Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro, Rudy Fernandez and Felipe Reyes.
Calderón came off the bench in Rio and played 25 minutes total in five of the team’s eight games. He’s entering his 12th season in the NBA.
Gasol, who will be 40 years old come Tokyo 2020, has not determined when he will end his international career.
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Helen Maroulis nervously stood to the side of Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh as he introduced the Olympic gold medalist to his players, in full pads and ready to take the field, in their locker room Saturday.
“When you beat a legend, you become a legend,” Harbaugh told the team and Maroulis. “You’re a legend, so our guys want to hear about it.”
Maroulis, who beat three-time Olympic champion Saori Yoshida to become the first U.S. Olympic women’s wrestling champion, then stepped up. Wearing a Ravens jersey — “No. 16 Maroulis” — she addressed the team.
“I was incredibly nervous,” Maroulis said later. “I just speak from the heart.”
Her full speech before the Ravens-Lions preseason game Saturday:
“A lot of people asked if I knew I was going to win before the finals. And, no, I don’t ever know if I’m going to win before a match. And I’ve always said, I’m not called to be a Magic 8-Ball. I’m called to be a wrestler. So my job isn’t to predict the future. My job is to step out there and give everything that I have. Just through studying opponents and studying people’s mindsets and trying to figure out what was going to work for me, I just realized that you have to give everything you have, and you have to sacrifice everything that needs to be sacrificed, but you can’t take anything with you into a match that’s going to guarantee you a win. Like all the hard work, everything, that doesn’t promise you a win. You still have to step out there as if you’re wrestling for your life, or you’re fighting for your life. Did I know I was going to beat her? No. But I always say, Christ is in me. I am enough. I didn’t need to be perfect that day. I didn’t need to be the fastest. I just needed to be enough. And on that day I was enough to win.”
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