Jelena Izenbajeva (also spelled Yelena Isinbaeva), is a Russian female pole vaulter who is known for setting records in the sport of Pole Vaulting. She is a two time Olympic gold medalist. She has also won multiple World and European Championships.
Izenbajeva was born on June 03, 1982 in Volgograd, Russia to a Russian mother and a father who is of Tabasaran ethnicity. She trained as a gymnast in Volgograd at the age of five, but had to leave the sport as she was considered too tall for it.
In 1998, she won her first big pole vaulting victory at that year’s World Youth Games. She was 16 and she had only been training for 6 months prior to the competition. She won another gold medal at the 1999 World Youth Championships held in Bydgoszcz, Poland. She continued winning gold in youth and junior events in 2000 and 2001. In 2002, Izenbajeva won her first senior championship medal - a silver, at the European Championships.
The young Russian broke her first pole vaulting record in 2003 by jumping a height of 4.82 meters. That same year she won a bronze medal at that World Championships. At the 2004 Olympics, Izenbajeva won the gold medal and set a new world record when she cleared 4.91m. She beat that record a year later at the Memorial Van Damme, held in Brussels.
Since 2004, Izenbajeva has been beating her own world records. Her latest success was at the 2008 Beijing Olympics where she took home the gold by clearing 5.05 meters. In November of the same year, she was honored with an Athlete of the Year award (presented by the IAAF) for the third time in her sporting career.