Suhr goes back to school en route to Moscow

With the pressures of having to qualify for the US World Championships team now behind her, Olympic Pole Vault champion Jenn Suhr’s season is starting to take off.

“Hey track and field fans.

“As I write this I am driving from Des Moines, Iowa towards Chicago to catch a flight to the Birmingham Diamond League meeting. It is a bit of a long haul but a lot easier than messing with the poles in transit by flying to Chicago O’Hara Airport from Des Moines. The ride has also given me some time to reflect about the season so far, my goals for the year and the small things in life that matter most.

“As for the small things that matter most…

“Since the end of the indoor season, my seven-year-old niece has begged and pleaded for me to be her “show and tell” for school. I told her I would but training and other commitments had kept me busy. Last week, I was finally able to arrange a day where I could visit.

“It was refreshing answering questions from second graders. The usual media questions are “What are your goals?” and “How high can you jump?” or “How do you think you will do in Moscow?” For a change, it was fun answering questions like “Does it hurt to land in that thing?” and “Why doesn’t the pole slip out of the ground?” and “Can you eat cookies?”

“During my visit, I showed a couple of pole vault videos, signed posters, and gave hugs. Even though I could see how excited my two nieces were while I was there, I don’t think I realised until that night just how happy they were to show off their ‘Aunt Jenny’ at “show and tell”. My sister called after the girls went to sleep to tell me that when Callie was saying her prayers before bed, she prayed: “Thank you Jesus for the bestest day ever!” Funny – I felt the same… that was my ‘bestest’ day in a while too.

“As for the season so far…

“I am pleased with where I am in training and in competitions. It is amazing how much more fun training and meets can be when you can focus on just the competition and not on your aches and pains. I haven’t jumped often but in just the last month, I’ve managed one of my highest ever outdoor marks, 4.91m. I managed a Diamond League win in crazy cold, wind and rain. And most importantly, I came away with a win at the USA Champs.

“And as for the goals for this year…

“As many of you know, to represent the USA at the World Championships, Americans need to finish among the top three at our national championships. As a result, I try not to allow myself to think about any other summer competitions beyond our championships.

Call me superstitious, but the best way to end up watching the World Championships on television is to assume you are going to be there before you actually qualify.

“Because I don’t look beyond the US Championships, I haven’t focused on Moscow very much. This quiet drive through Iowa cornfields is helping me get myself oriented on these next six weeks.

“Many of the US-based media this weekend asked me if I was worried about competing against Yelena Isinbeyeva in her home country. I didn’t have a real answer at first. To say that spectators don’t influence track and field competitions would be kind of foolish. I have to think that Jessica Ennis’s and Mo Farah’s incredible performances last summer were, in part, inspired by the emotion that comes with performing on one of the world’s biggest stages in front of their countrymen and countrywomen.

“But rather than see a match-up between Yelena and myself (and let’s face it, there are at least another two or three women who can win) in Moscow as scary or difficult, I am choosing to see this as a huge opportunity for the Pole Vault in general.

If all of the top women arrive in Moscow fit and healthy, the Pole Vault could be, for maybe the first time in recent memory, more interesting to the home country and the host media covering it than even a men’s 100m showdown between the best Jamaican and US sprinters.

“Entering the World Championships, the obvious goal to try to win. But to answer those reporters’ questions from this weekend, I am not concerned. I am excited for all of us. It is an opportunity to educate, excite and inspire a new generation of female vaulters by putting on the best possible show on that runway in Moscow on 13 August.

“For just this one day, I hope the sport will be better known as ‘field and track’.

“Until then, keep an eye out for me in Birmingham this weekend. I’ll be the one wearing a pink adidas uniform – my favourite colour!

“Vault Tough,

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Suhr Jenn Vaulter Magazine
Suhr Jenn Vaulter Magazine

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