Even before the glass security doors slid open, the welcome-home cheers rang out as soon as Jenn Suhr came into view.
Then, as she stepped from Concourse B into the lobby at the Greater Rochester International Airport, the Stuczynski/Suhr family reunion officially began on Monday afternoon.
There were hugs and handshakes, followed by more hugs and more handshakes.
From mom and dad. From grandma and grandpa. From cousins as well as friends from her current home in Riga, her hometown of Fredonia and from her alma mater, Roberts Wesleyan College.
“It’s overwhelming,” she said of the reception after her arrival with husband/coach Rick Suhr after more than a month in London.
Moments later, she was holding — and sharing — her Olympic gold medal, that priceless, shimmering keepsake that is the ultimate athletic reward for years upon years of relentless dedication. The silver medalist in 2008, the 30-year-old Suhr plans to continue competing and pursue a third Olympic medal in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016.
Nearly everyone at the gathering was eager to see her gold medal on Monday. Even passengers who happened to be on her United Airlines flight from Chicago added their fingerprints.
“We want to share it with everyone,” she said.
The past five weeks have been a whirlwind of anxiety and competitive fire.
Suhr left July 23 for the London Games and, on Aug. 6, achieved her ultimate goal by soaring 15 feet, 7 inches to win the women’s pole vault.
On Sunday, she won gold again, this time at the Aviva Birminghan Grand Prix in England in the season finale. Monday was the official start of her offseason.
“I’ll probably do a lot of laundry and unpacking, and then recovery,” she said.
She also needs to reunite with her dog, a 5-year-old Great Pyrenees named Tundra. “That’s her baby,” said her father — and dog-sitter for the past five weeks — Mark Stuczynski.
The next several days and probably weeks will be spent catching up and reminiscing, in Riga and in Fredonia. And then it will be back to training.
by: Kevin Oklobzija
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