There wasn’t much doubt she would, and Riga resident Jenn Suhr officially punched her ticket to Rio de Janeiro for her third Olympic Games by winning the pole vault at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon on Sunday.
Suhr won the trial by clearing 15 feet, 9 inches, the same height she cleared in London to win the gold medal in the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Suhr stamped her place as perhaps the greatest pole vaulter in U.S. history. Sunday’s victory was Suhr’s 17th national title, the most ever. Suhr’s coach and husband, Rick Suhr, said he couldn’t think of any other pole vaulter off hand that had made the Olympics three times.
Despite the accolades, Jenn Suhr still feels like a weight has been lifted off her shoulders.
“It’s a big relief. I don’t think people know the pressure that goes along with it,” she said. “They’re emotional workouts but to win today makes it all worth it.”
The conditions in Eugene weren’t ideal for track and field events, with rain and temperatures struggling to reach 60. Jenn Suhr was forced to wait around like she did in the qualifying round, yet still had the highest jump of the meet.
She tried three times with the bar set at 15-11, but was unable to clear it. If the conditions are better in the Olympics, Suhr is confident she can go higher in Rio.
“I’m definitely in 5-meter (about 16-feet) shape right now,” she said. “These conditions were really tough and I can’t wait to get to a meet and jump something I’m capable of.”
Runner-up Sandi Morris (15-7) and third-place finisher Alexis Weeks (15-5) earned spots on the Olympic team in Rio.
Morris also finished second to Suhr at the Indoor Championships in March, proving that Suhr is still the one to beat in Rio.
“Right now Jenn is the best jumper in the world, and the jump she had today could probably win in Rio,” Rick Suhr said. “In better conditions, 16-1/4, the same jump she had to win the indoor world championship. We’re right in that range.”