VAULTER VAULTER

For pole-vaulting star Jenn Suhr, competing is big leap of faith

Jenn Suhr was done. Toast. Outta here.

Her dreams of Olympic gold weren’t just tarnished, they were finished.

“We sat there for three days wondering how we were going to tell everyone we’re done,” said her coach and husband, Rick Suhr.

The world’s top-ranked pole vaulter tore her right quadriceps during a workout at her home in Riga in late May. The Olympic Trials were 4 ½ weeks away, and she had to finish in the top three to qualify for the London Games.

And now she could barely walk, let alone soar 15 feet over a bar.

“It was just a terrible feeling,” said Suhr, a Fredonia native and Roberts Wesleyan graduate who won a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

“We were in shock,” Rick said. “Jenn stayed upstairs for two days. We didn’t even talk about it. I’m about to cry just talking about it now.”

Jenn nursed her injured quad and stayed away from the pole, skipping the Prefontaine Classic and adidas Grand Prix.

And she prayed. Unsure of how her leg would respond, the pair traveled to Eugene, Ore., in late June for the Trials.

“I just told Jenn, ‘I think you can jump high enough to qualify,’ “ Rick said.

He was right. Jenn only jumped twice but cleared 15 feet, 1 inch to win the Trials, beating runner-up Becky Holliday (14-11) and Lacy Janson (14-9).

Next stop: The London Olympics, and another chance at gold. The qualifiers are Saturday at 10:20 a.m. London time (5:20 a.m. here). The finals are Monday at 7 p.m. (2 p.m. here).

“I can’t wait,” Suhr said. “I’m super excited.”

As always, standing in her way is Russian legend Yelena Isinbayeva, the two-time Olympic gold medalist. After taking 2011 off, Isinbayeva set a world record (for the 28th time) in the indoor vault this past February and seems primed for another gold rush. At 30, she’s four months younger than Suhr.

Suhr’s own coach and husband openly calls Isinbayeva “the greatest women’s pole vaulter in history.” But in the next breath, he adds that no 2012 Olympic athlete in any sport has been more victorious than Jenn.

by: Jim Mandelaro

from: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/20120801/SPORTS/307290087

Jenn Suhr
Jenn Suhr

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