FREDONIA, N.Y. — U.S. pole vaulting champion Jenn Suhr came home to Fredonia on Saturday to say thanks and inspire young athletes to follow in her footsteps.

“It’s so special to come here and to have the support and to be able to put on a show and hopefully inspire a new generation of pole vaulters in the area,” said Suhr. “You know, I always say Western New Yorkers are tougher than most, so to get pole vaulters out here, [like] the 15-year-old, hopefully we get another generation.”

The homecoming exhibition comes nearly two months after Suhr was unable to defend her Olympic title in Rio due to a serious respiratory illness. She says being home in front of supportive fans helps to move beyond the disappointment.

“It’s nice just to be able to come out and jump, and having people wanting you to make bars and being in a group with athletes that you want to do well with, and to be out here with friends and family and to be so close to home, it puts so much more energy into it and emotion,” said Suhr. “I think in the next four years, and going into 2020, I’ve got to learn how to jump like this and enjoy the process.”

For fans, it was a chance to see a homegrown Olympic hero up close.


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