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Leap of faith for Isinbayeva in new role on IOC commission

The Russian pole vault world record holder faced opposition from IOC members but backing from fellow athletes to join the IOC athletes' council.

Britta Heidemann, Yelena Isinbayeva, Daniel Gyurta, and Ryu Seung-mi.

Two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva was officially welcomed onto the International Olympic Committee (IOC) athletes commission Sunday only to discover that 23 of 70 members of the organisation voted against her.

Eight-year term

The Russian world record holder was one of four new members voted onto the commission to serve an eight-year term.

Her election came despite her being unable to defend her pole vault title after the Russian track and field squad was banned from the Games by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

"I prefer not to comment on the situation," said Isinbayeva when asked to respond to 23 IOC members voting against her. There were two abstentions.

Despite the IOC's reservations, Isinbayeva won support from fellow athletes. She joins German fencer Britta Heidemann, South Korean table tennis player Ryu Seug-min and swimmer Daniel Gyurta from Hungary as the new faces on the commission.

"The IOC members confirmed me and selected me as a new member, I'm happy," said the Russian who announced her retirement from athletics on Thursday.

Rio ban

Isinbayeva at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow.
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Isinbayeva at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow.FRANCK FIFEAFP

Isinbayeva repeated her claim that had she been allowed to compete in Rio, she would have taken a third gold. Greece's Ekaterini Stefanidi took gold with a best of 4.85m.

At a meeting in Russia in June, Isinbayeva cleared 4.90m, the second best performance of the year.

"I'm happy to be here and be a an IOC member but at the same time I didn't have the opportunity to fight for my third goal medal," said Isinbayeva, who holds the world record of 5.06m. "As you can see the Greek girl won with 4.85 and my best performance this season was 4.90m."

"This is life and maybe this is destiny, I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate the new Olympic champion and the second and third places, they've done a good job."


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