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Two-time Olympic champion Isinbayeva announces her retirement

August 19, 20:04 UTC+3
Two-time Olympic pole vault Olympic champion Yelena Isinbayeva was elected to the International Olympic Committee’s athlete’s commission
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Yelena Isinbayeva

Yelena Isinbayeva

© Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS

RIO DE JANEIRO, August 19. /TASS/. Two-time Olympic pole vault Olympic champion Yelena Isinbayeva has announced the end of her career.

"I invited you here to inform you that I am ending my career," Isinbayeva told a special news conference in Rio de Janeiro, which is hosting the Summer Olympic Games. "Today, on August 19, 2016, in Rio de Janeiro Yelena Isinbayeva is ending her professional career. I thought I would feel so sad that I would have to hold back tears. However, my election to the IOC yesterday inspired my so much that I am bidding farewell to professional sports only."

"I am saying goodbye to the runway, sector and my poles," Isinbayeva went on to say. "I am saying goodbye to an anthem in my honor, because every athlete is a little selfish, and, of course, it will be hard to get these emotions in life. Nevertheless, I am very happy that I was able to realize my potential by winning all possible medals and all possible titles. I won the trust and love of fans around the world, and this is the limit of one’s ambitions."

"After our news conference you can officially consider me an athlete who has completed her career," she added.

Isinbayeva forgives IAAF leadership for Olympic ban

Prior to the Rio Olympics, Isinbayeva vowed she would never forgive those who forbade her to compete in the Olympic Games. But she definitely changed her mind on Friday.

"I am not a judge or God. If the IAAF president and members believe that they had been honest with clean Russian track-and-field athletes, I am leaving that to their conscience. IAAF created impossible criteria, part of which I had met. For example, I underwent five blood and two urine tests. But that was not enough. I am changing my grievances and utterance "I will never forgive" into forgiveness and I am leaving everything to God’s will," Isinbayeva said.

IAAF president avoids meeting IIsinbayeva

Isinbayeva said that he wanted to ask IAAF President Sebastian Coe to explain the reasons why she had been banned from competing in Rio but he had been obstinate in avoiding her

"We used to have excellent relations with Mr. Coe. I voted for him at elections of the IAAF president and I believed in him. He is young and energetic. He is an Olympic champion who proved that no one could take a dream away from an athlete who wants to compete and steadily moves to his dream. He proved that at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. Regretfully, the situation has changed for some unknown reasons. A person is simply refusing to talk and is trying to avoid any meetings," Isinbayeva said.

"I am sure that we are going to meet each other one day. I will ask Mr. President just one question: if he has any personal grudges against me and why it was impossible to make an exception and allow me to compete at the Rio Olympics. But if he keeps referring to the IAAF criteria, which are impossible to meet, our conversation will be useless," she added.

Isinbayeva pledged to defend athletes’ rights in her capacity as member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission shortly after her election on Thursday.

"I would like to thank Alexander Zhukov (Russian Olympic Committee president) and his staff who helped me with my campaign. Naturally, I will work for the sake of the Olympic movement and I will certainly defend athletes’ rights in the first place. Today, it is vitally important for athletes’ voices to be heard. I am pleased to act as a kind of bridge between Russia and the IOC. I am so happy that it drives me mad," Isinbayeva said. 

Isinbayeva, 34, was elected to the International Olympic Committee’s athlete’s commission on Thursday. She also noted that she would consider putting forward her candidacy for the post of president of the All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF).

Isinbayeva was unable to compete at the Rio Olympics as Russian track and field athletes have been banned from the Olympics after the All-Russian Athletic Federation was disqualified due to doping allegations.

On July 21, the Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected a lawsuit filed by the Russian Olympic Committee and 68 track and field athletes to fight the decision by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to bar them from the Olympics.

Isinbayeva won the Olympic gold in 2004 and 2008 and was also the bronze medalist in the 2012 Olympic Games. The pole vault queen has set 28 world records during her sports career.

The 2016 Summer Olympic Games got underway in Rio de Janeiro on August 5. The closing day is August 21.

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