ROME Russian Yelena Isinbayeva improved her own pole vault world record Friday, jumping 16 feet, 6 inches at the Golden Gala meet.
The Russian cleared the record height (5.03 meters) with ease on her second attempt, nearly three years after her previous record of 16-5 1/4 (5.01 meters) at the 2005 world championships in Helsinki, Finland.
"I was ready for a world record; my goal today was to beat the world record," she said. "In Rome, there are great facilities, and the crowd is fantastic; I wanted to do something for them."
Competing in her first outdoor meet this season, Isinbayeva's record stands as a sharp retort to American pole vaulter Jenn Stuczynski, who cleared 16-0 3/4 (4.90) on May 18 to move into second on the all-time list.
Isinbayeva said she was propelled to the new mark by Stuczynski and the feeling the American was eclipsing her.
"Everybody was saying 'Ah OK, Isinbayeva is finished, we have a new star,"' she said at a news conference. "So today I was really angry."
The two will face each other in August at the Beijing Olympics.
Isinbayeva said she had worked hard to overcome the physical and psychological problems that stopped her from improving on the record since 2005.
"I'm stronger now, I run faster and jump higher, but the most important thing is my mind. I'm happy, I'm quiet now, I want to jump," she said. "Before I had problems, and the pole vault was somewhere in the back of my mind."
The 26-year-old Russian has dominated the pole vault since winning the 2004 Olympic title. She has set 12 world records outdoors and 10 indoors, and is the only woman ever to clear 5 meters 16-4 3/4.
Her career goal is to eclipse Sergei Bubka's mark of 35 world records.
With all the other events long finished, Isinbayeva got the faithful fans involved by putting her hands together to get the crowd clapping to a beat.
She doused her hands in chalk, raised her pole high toward the sky and dashed down the runway. When she came down with a new world record, she leaped into the arms of her new coach Vitaly Petrov, who used to coach the great Sergei Bubka, then draped herself in a Russian flag.
Isinbayeva trains in nearby Formia, south of Rome, and spoke to the crowd in Italian to celebrate, telling them "grazie" (thank you) for the support.
Friday's jump "was not even close to the bar," she told reporters, stressing she can improve upon the record. "It's just the beginning."