Isinbayeva braced for golden Olympics close-up
Russian diva Yelena Isinbayeva goes for a third Olympic gold medal on Monday, aiming to prove she remains the undisputed queen of women's pole vaulting.
The 30-year-old world record holder, who has suffered some bitter defeats during the last three seasons, sailed through qualification, needing only two vaults to secure safe passage to the final.
Isinbayeva failed to record a height in a tear-stained 2009 world championships in Berlin and came just sixth in last year's worlds in Daegu, South Korea.
But at the Beijing 2008 Games, she became the first athlete to win consecutive individual gold medals with world records -- 4.91m in Athens in 2004 and 5.05m in the Chinese capital.
She has since improved that mark to 5.06m.
After Sunday's magical night which saw Usain Bolt storm to a successful defence of his 100m title, Isinbayeva will be the star attraction and expected to cruise to gold after world champion Fabiana Murer and Svetlana Feofanova, who won silver in Athens and bronze in Beijing, all failed to qualify.
"I jumped well, but the weather was difficult for pole vaulting," Isinbayeva said of the swirling winds inside the Olympic Stadium after Saturday's qualifying.
"There was a strong wind in our face. But I feel really confident for the final. I feel in top form."
Women's golds will also be decided in the women's shot put, with New Zealand's defending world and Olympic champion Valerie Adams the big favourite.
Grenada's world champion Kirani James will be favourite for the 400m especially after defending champion LaShawn Merritt failed to make it out of the heats.
Eighteen golds will be decided on Monday.
One of those will be in the velodrome where Britain's Jason Kenny and Frenchman Gregory Bauge are set to duel for the men's sprint.
Kenny was the silver medallist in Beijing while Bauge is a three-time world champion.
The women's football finalists will be decided when World Cup winners Japan tackle France at Wembley and defending champions the United States meet Canada at Old Trafford.
The US are the two-time defending champions.
Coming off their toughest challenge of the Olympics, the US NBA Dream Team face Argentina to decide a top seeding for the medal playoff quarter-finals that begin on Wednesday.
A last-eight date with Australia awaits the US NBA multi-millionaires if they defeat the South American squad led by NBA San Antonio Spurs star Manu Ginobili, who helped Argentina claim 2004 Olympic gold.