Jenn Suhr wins national pole vault championship

Jenn Suhr cleared 15 feet, 5 inches to win her 14th national title at the 2013 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Sunday in Des Moines, Iowa.

The Riga resident qualified for the IAAF World Championships in Athletics, held August 10-18 in Moscow, with the victory.

“It’s pretty amazing,” said Rick Suhr, Jenn’s coach and husband. “She’s been able to win 14 national titles in 16 meets that’s she’s jumped in. It’s the most of any track and field athlete in any event in any country right now.”

Suhr took took two attempts at 14-11 and matched Kylie Hutson’s height of 15-1 on her first run to tie for the lead.

Suhr skipped 15-3 and cleared 15-5 for the win after Hutson missed both attempts. She took a shot at an an American outdoor record height of 16-2, which would have bettered her own mark of 16-1¾ set in 2008, but was unable to convert on three attempts.

Hutson finished second and Becky Holliday was third.

Suhr jumped 16-1 for the world outdoor season-best on June 14 in a New York Invite Series event at White Birch Golf Course in Lyndonville.

She also set a world record in the women’s indoor pole vault by clearing 16 feet, 5½ inches at the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., in March.

Rick Suhr said that Jenn, who has battled lower back and Achilles tendon injuries, is completely healthy for the first time in about three years.

Suhr will have a target on her back at the world championships, and not only because she is the defending Olympic champion. The championships in Moscow are in the home country of pole-vaulting superstar and two-time Olympic gold medalist Yelena Isinbayeva.

Suhr was runner-up to Isinbayeva at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing before taking the gold in London.

Isinbayeva also won the gold in 2004 in Athens and earned a bronze in 2012. She was named Female Athlete of the Year by the IAFF in 2004, 2005 and 2008.

“Isinbayeva is like Michael Jordan in Russia. She’s the most popular athlete in Moscow. Without question, Isinbayeva is the favorite at the worlds,” Suhr said. “If the meet was in Churchville, I’d say we are, but I don’t think the championships are going to be there.

“Jenn will be going in there with 100,000 people rooting against her. I think it’s going to be the most difficult environment she’s ever jumped and competed in her career.”

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