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 Russian school’ Murer vaults Brazil into world elite
Fabiana Murer of Brazil (Getty Images)
Thursday 30 November 2006

Pole vaulting became one of the most high profile disciplines for South American athletics in 2006. To the well known talent of 19-year-old Argentinean talent Germán Chiaraviglio, the World Youth and Junior champion, was added the emergence of a female figure, 25-year-old Fabiana Murer of Brazil, who finished second in the World Cup in Athletics, Athens, Greece.
4.66m and Grand Prix success

Brazilian Fabiana de Almeida Murer 
in triumph in Belem
(Wander Roberto Oliveira/CBAt)
(Extracted from IAAF News)
2005 had been a very promising year for Murer who comes from Campinas, a city in the interior of the São Paulo state, bringing her a personal best and national record to 4.40m, and she was unlucky to miss progressing to the World Championships Final in Helsinki by just 2 places.
But disappointment was not long lived as Murer’s career erupted with a remarkable improvement in 2006. At the end of January she set an Area indoor record of 4.41m (27 Jan), and outdoors ended the year after many improvements by holding the outdoor record at 4.66m. In the process she won most notably at the Super Grand Prix in Monaco and the Belem GP, and finished second in the Brussels Golden League meeting.

“Our approach to 2006 was very similar to other years, in terms of the physical and technical preparation,” said Murer after another hard session of base-training ahead of the upcoming indoor season.

Belém Breakthrough
“To be totally honest, before the season started I had 4.60m as my “goal-mark” for the year, but things started “clicking” perfectly, right after the Belém GP. That day (21 May) I improved the national and South American record 3 times from 4.40m, to leave it at 4.55m. It was a great breakthrough, a great boost of confidence.” The past holder of the Area record had been Argentinean Alejandra García whose previous mark was 4.43m (2004).

A week after the Brazilian Grand Prix, Murer won the Ibero-American Championships in Ponce (Puerto Rico), on 26 May. There, she added 1cm to her personal best to earn her first international title at a senior level.

After that came a couple of meets in Europe in June-July with mixed results, but the months of August-September brought the very best of 2006.

Monaco high
On 13 August, Murer jumped 4.50 in São Paulo, and a week later in Monaco the Brazilian raised once again her national and South American record to 4.66m, to also capture the victory at the Herculis Grand Prix, where she also beat one of the world’s best vaulters, Poland’s Monika Pyrek.

At Monaco’s Louis II Stadium, Murer had a wonderful meet, equalling her best of 4.56m, and then jumping 4.61 and 4.66m successfully, both times with dramatic third-attempt clearances.

“The year has been incredibly great, but for some reason, if I have to pick a moment in the whole season, I would choose the victory in Monaco. I kept on going higher and higher. I beat Pyrek, among other girls, and I also showed that I was a good vaulter.”

Fifth at the World Athletics Final (4.50m), Murer was second to Russia’s World record holder Yelena Isinbayeva in Brussels (another 4.66m jump) and at the World Cup in Athens (4.55m).

Later, Murer closed out her season with victories at the “Troféu Brasil” (4.57m), the South American Championships (4.47m), and a South American indoor contest in Santa Fe, Argentina (4.22m).

“The year has been intense, with several trips across the Atlantic to compete and train in Europe, but I wouldn’t mind repeating it in 2007. I have to admit that my life has changed with the recognition that came after this successful 2006, and now I have even higher goals for the future.”

Gymnastics was the beginning
“I started getting involved with sports at the age of 7, practicing gymnastics in Campinas, but once I began growing, I realized that my height would not help me for that sport. That’s when athletics came across. I went for a trial with my coach, Élson Miranda de Souza (former 5.02m vaulter himself and Brazilian champion in 1989), and that’s how I began… Later I was forced to move to São Paulo, for practical reasons, and I have been in the city for the past 8 years.”

“As a coach, Élson was closer to the American school of vaulting and had links with Earl Bell (former World record holder and 1984 Olympic bronze medallist). So, that’s how I ended up going to train with Bell in Jonesboro, Arkansas in the winters of 1999 and 2000. By then my results weren’t great, though I was already the best in Brazil in a discipline, the pole vault, which was just growing.”

Petrov brought change of direction
“In 2001 Élson met coach Vitaly Petrov, the master of Sergey Bubka, and that made him change his mind about his coaching philosophy. We switched everything from the American school to the Russian school, something that created a certain struggle at the beginning”.

“But everything worked out perfectly later, and the results started to appear in 2003, when I first jumped over 4m. Since then the progression has been incredible, also helped by the programmes implemented by the Brazilian Confederation, and the numerous camps we had with Petrov in Italy, Brazil and Argentina.”

“Also the experiences I had in 2005, especially at the Helsinki IAAF World Championships, told me that I was very close to the best. That the people I once admired had similar physical conditions to mine. All those things made me believe that I could belong to the elite.”

“Isinbayeva is in a class of her own. She is a remarkable athlete, who I admire a lot, especially because of the way she approaches each competition from the mental aspect.”

“Many people have asked me about the sunglasses I have used in the last meets… They are necessary because, as a vaulter, you always need to be looking up to the sky, and the sun could blind you for a second, and that could be crucial. But now, because of the results I have obtained wearing them, they have become an important part of my gear, almost like a talisman.”

Working for 2007
“We are all training very hard because next year will be a very important one for Brazilian athletics, due to the Pan-American Games that Rio de Janeiro will host in July. My goal is to win the gold medal there. But later we will have the Osaka World Championships, so we won’t be done after Rio at all… My primary objective for Japan is to reach the final, but I feel I’m also capable of getting to the podium. We will see… It should be a great season that will begin in the winter at the European Indoor circuit.”

Eduardo Biscayart for the IAAF

Fabiana de Almeida Murer
Campinas, São Paulo, 16 March 1981. 1.72m, 64Kg.
Club: BM&F de Atletismo.
Coach: Élson Miranda de Souza.

Progress at PV:1998- 3.66; 1999- 3.81; 2000- 3.90; 2001- 3.91; 2002- 3.70; 2003- 4.06; 2004- 4.25; 2005- 4.40; 2006- 4.66. Indoor pb: 4.41 (’06).

At major meets:WCh: ’05- 15q; WI: ‘06- 15q; WCp: ‘06- 2; WJ: ‘98- =14q, ‘01- 10; PAm: ’99- 9; SAm: ’99- 3, ’01- 6, ’05- 2, ’06- 1; PAm-J: ’99- 2; Won IbAm 2006 and SAm-J 1998, ’99, ’00.