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Page last updated at 12:28 GMT, Monday, 16 August 2010 13:28 UK

GB pole vaulter Byres inspired after meeting Isinbayeva

Isinbayeva inspires GB pole vaulter

By Oliver Brett

British pole vaulter Katie Byres hopes a meeting with double Olympic gold medallist Yelena Isinbayeva can inspire her to compete in the 2012 Games.

Glossop girl Byres, 16, is in action at the Youth Olympics in Singapore and was given the chance to spend time with the two-time Olympic gold medallist.

"Isinbayeva told me her first Olympic Games was when she was 18," said Byres.

"Thinking about it now I don't think I will be too young in 2012. It will be a lot of hard work but it is feasible."

Byres, who has a personal best of 4.05m after three-and-a-half years pole vaulting, will compete in Tuesday's first round in Singapore and is hoping to qualify for the A final on Saturday.

A keen gymnast growing up, she was inspired to try out pole vaulting after watching Russia's Isinbayeva land her first Olympic gold in 2004.

And she readily accepted the chance to spend some personal time with the double world record holder, who is in the Far East in her capacity as a Youth Olympics ambassador.

"It was really exciting. I was trying to learn from her about her experiences and pick up some tips to use in the future," Byres told BBC Sport.

If I make it through to the A final it's about what happens on the day and I'll have a chance of medal

Katie Byres

"She was very friendly, just how you expected her to be. She is very natural and comes across as a very nice, down-to-earth person.

"What was interesting was that she is not superstitious at all and doesn't allow things to disrupt her focus. I have a GB duck which I take along with me, and she signed it for me.

"But when she competes she doesn't have any markers or anything - it's just her and her vaulting and she knows what she has to do."

As with any leading young British athlete, London 2012 remains an overwhelming ambition for Byres, who sees Singapore as an important stepping stone for her.

"If I make it through to the A final it's about what happens on the day and I'll have a chance of medal. But I am not expecting it and won't allow any pressure to get to me.

"The person who is ranked at number one, Angelica Bengtsson of Sweden, came through qualification in Moscow with 4.47m and is a definite favourite to win.

"I'm just trying to get a personal best and see what happens. I think I'm ranked sixth or seventh, I'm not sure."

With qualification for London 2012 expected to be around the 4.40m mark, Byres still has some improvement to find.


But a strong performance in Singapore, and some words of wisdom from Isinbayeva, will give her a fighting chance of getting there.

If she does, it will be the culmination of plenty of dedication from at least three members of the Byres family.

Her parents drive her from Derbyshire to Manchester for training five times a week, a round trip in excess of an hour. Byres describes her schedule as "quite intense".

Her new temporary surroundings are certainly a far cry from Glossop.

"Singapore is a very nice place to be and is an opportunity to see different cultures," she said. "It's very, very hot with a lot of humidity and quite different to England, and it has a nice Olympic village.

"I'm not missing home at all. I'm really enjoying my time and don't want to come home. It's really friendly, everyone's very nice but at the competition they will be serious and trying to do their best."

see also
In pictures: Youth Olympics Team GB
13 Aug 10 |  Olympics
Who's who on Team GB?
05 Aug 10 |  Sport
Isinbayeva reveals comeback plan
23 Jul 10 |  Athletics
Isinbayeva sets pole vault record
28 Aug 09 |  Athletics
Athletics on the BBC
21 Apr 11 |  Athletics

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