Think of records, and immediately Sergey Bubka, the Ukrainien polevaulter, comes to mind. 35 world records, indoor and out, and his 6m14 leap in Italy in 1994 has yet to be approached, let alone beaten. From a truly outstanding athelete Bubka has mutated into an influential figure in the sports world; an International Olympics Committee member, and president of the Athelete’s commission. EuroNews met the legend during the Sportel 2007 convention in Monaco;
EuroNews: Your world record still stands. Why do you think today’s vaulters can’t get anywhere near it? How do you explain why your record has stood so long?
Bubka: I always tried to develop my technique, to focus and to improve the results. I did my job very well and I’m really pleased of what I did through my sports career. I was really passionate and enthusiastic and excited by the pole vault.
E: The men are stagnating and aren’t able to get anywhere near your world record. But the women are improving year on year. What do you think of their performance, and in particular Yelena Isinbayeva’s?
B: It is good that we have good development in the women’s pole vault, we have good athletes, good personalities like Isinbayeva. This makes this event very popular, very famous and brings attention to our sport, and athletics. To jump over 5 meters for women, I’d say this is a really great performance.
E: Despite all the criticisms that have been made about next year’s Olympics, for example the violation of human rights, or pollution in Beijing, do you think this will be a good Olympics?
B: If we look at the last 6 years, you can see unbelievable positive changes in human rights, and you can see how the country becomes more and more open. The media can write, and they have invested a lot of money on pollution to improve the environment. I can see it because I travel there a lot as I am a member of the coordination commission. The Olympics have brought a lot of positive changes to China.
E: Do you have any comment to make on Marion Jones’s confession to being a drugs cheat, and other recent scandals?
B: It’s very negative that Marion Jones became an athlete who used forbidden substances. And we need to look at exactly what was the reason, what kind of evidence there is. But I think we are getting stronger, for that reason we can see and catch athletes who choose the wrong way, who once cheated. IOC has also decided for 2008, the decision is already made, that if an athlete is doped and suspended with an over 6 month’s penalty, this athlete will not participate in the next Olympics.
E: The 2012 European football championships will be in Ukraine and Poland, the 2014 Olympics are in Sochi in Russia. Is Eastern Europe becoming the new destination for international sport?
B: Eastern Europe is developing very fast and this explains why UEFA decided to give the 2012 Euro to Ukraine and Poland. I took part in the bidding process for my country. Of course we are very happy and proud to host the Championships and we are looking forward to working very hard to host a successful Euro in 2012.
E: We’ve been taking bets in the office on how high you’d go if you picked up a pole today. Five metres?
B: No!!! Five ? You’re joking ! 5 is very easy, it’s much higher than 5. More than 5.50 for sure.