LONDON — Jenn Suhr stole the heart of every single fan in Olympic Stadium on Monday night.
Including the one that belonged to her teammate, Becky Holliday.
Holliday, 32, a graduate of Reed High, finished ninth in the women’s pole vault final after failing to clear a height of 14.93 feet. Holliday remained on the track to see where Suhr would land.
Suhr, 30, upset two-time defending gold medalist Elena Isinbaeva of Russia.
“I wanted to stay and watch Jenn,” Holliday said. “Her and I have been competitors and friends for a really, really long time. So, I wanted to stay on the field and have front-row seats and watch her. I know that she wanted the gold. I’m very excited for her.”
A silver medal winner at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Suhr is trained by her husband in an old airplane hangar in their yard in upstate New York.
She cleared 15 feet, 7 inches in cold, windy weather to win gold.
“It was definitely something that I wanted,” Suhr said. “I don’t think I ever wanted something so bad.”
Yarisley Silva of Cuba won silver, and Isinbaeva took bronze.
Holliday didn’t reach a personal best, but the surprise qualifier left the track feeling a sense of accomplishment.
The former NCAA national outdoors champion at Oregon wasn’t expected to make the Olympics, nevermind the women’s final.
Holliday was the second qualifier, behind Suhr, at the U.S. Trials in June.
“I have worked for so long,” Holliday said. “I’m an Olympic finalist … which is really good for me. Those girls all are such fierce competitors. I was in the mix. I’m proud of that.”
Holliday, dressed in the U.S. track team’s signature red and wearing white sunglasses to cut down on the glare of the stadium’s lights, cleared the bar on just two of her eight attempts.
It was enough to put her through to the third height of the competition, but her slight, 5-foot-3 frame was no match for the swirling winds on the stadium’s floor.
“That’s just the way it goes in these competitions,” Holliday said.
“Unfortunately, I’m 115 pounds and us little vaulters, we kind of get the shaft. But that’s the way it goes.”
Although she is 32, Holliday isn’t going anywhere. The Nevada state high school champ will continue to compete in the pole vault.
For how long?
“Another couple years. I don’t know if I’ll go all the way through Rio (in 2016) …” she said. “Us silly vaulters, we never know when to stop.”
And she’s not leaving London just yet, either. Her boyfriend, Tim Hornsby, races Friday in the men’s single kayak competition at Eton Dorney.
“Everybody’s been calling us the Olympic couple,” Holliday said.
“It was really exciting to be here with him.”
By: Lauren Gustus