WA Institute of Sport pole vaulter Liz Parnov. Picture: Ian Munro/The West Australian

Liz Parnov has come along in leaps and genealogical bounds since she first mucked around in a pole vault pit at the age of seven.

Given her background, the 18-year-old was always destined to become a top-flight athlete.

Dad Alex is a world renowned pole vault coach, older sister Vicky is a former teenage prodigy, uncle Viktor Chistiakov was world junior pole vault champion in 1994 and fifth at the Sydney Olympics, grandmother Natalya Pechonkina won bronze for the USSR in the women's 400m at the 1968 Mexico Olympics and there's a non-genetic link to Tatiana Grigorieva.

Good stock.

Chistiakov, the brother of Liz's mum Nadia, was married to Grigorieva, whom Australians adopted before the Sydney Olympics in 2000 after she migrated from Russia in 1997.

Once voted in the world's top 10 sexiest female athletes, Grigorieva attracted as much attention for her looks as for her prowess on the pole vault runway.

Yet that changed on a balmy Monday night at the Sydney Olympics when Grigorieva won a silver medal for her adopted country.

Parnov was there as a six-year-old when her aunty won that medal.

Grigorieva, who watched her niece compete in Brisbane, has always been on hand with advice and gave comfort after Parnov's soul-destroying Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010 at age 15 when her campaign ended in tears after she cleared only 3.95m.

"We've spoken about goals, the future and not letting an opportunity slip," Parnov said.

Parnov needed the wisdom after being overwhelmed in Delhi and she believes the experience will help her in London where expectations are not high given her best leap is 4.5m. While her grand designs include peaking for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, Parnov will use the London Games for experience, to learn the way "it all works".

"When I went to the Commonwealth Games I was 15 and it was just a shock, I didn't know what to do," she said. "It was overwhelming and everybody saw the disaster. This time I will act more professionally."

The West Australian

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