Jennifer Suhr and Becky Holliday are in the women’s pole vault final of the 2012 Summer Olympics and have a solid shot at pulling a double-whammy to medal for the United States.
Both, along with the rest of the qualifiers, went over the 4.55-meter (14′, 11″) mark in the prelims, which makes the final a seemingly flat competitive field. Contending for the gold medal, however, is going to be extremely difficult with Russia’s Yelena Isinbaeva still around.
To that end, let’s break down the final for each of America’s pole vaulters and see what each must do to medal.
The reigning Olympic silver medalist from the 2008 Beijing Games, Suhr is the best challenger to world record-holder (5.06 meters, 16′, 7.25″) Isinbaeva.
During the prelims, Suhr was just one of three qualifiers to not miss a mark and even more impressive, she made just one attempt at the 4.55 mark. It’s obvious that Suhr entered with much confidence and provided that remains throughout the final, she’ll easily challenge for gold.
Hitting a height of 4.8 meters (15′, 9″) will likely be good enough for at least a bronze medal. But if Suhr wants gold, she’ll have to stretch for that coveted five-meter mark (16′, 4.75″).
Although she took just fourth place at the 2011 World Championships with a height of 4.7 meters (15′, 5″), Suhr did out-vault Isinbaeva, who finished sixth. The two-time defending gold medalist has her hands full, because USA’s Suhr has the potential to prevent the three-peat.
Not to mention, she is the American record-holder at 4.92 meters (16′, 1.75″).
It may be her first Olympics, but USA’s Becky Holliday is proving to be a legitimate contender in the women’s pole vault.
She cleared the 4.55 mark on her second try, which positioned her at 10th place heading into the final. Nevertheless, Holliday doesn’t have any additional pressure in not being a considered medal favorite.
For one, her personal best is 4.62 meters (15′, 1.75″), which would have only been good enough for eighth in Beijing and 10th at the 2011 World Championships. The opportunity presented in the final, however, will bring out Holliday’s ultimate potential.
Now, though, Holliday must reach for at least 4.7 or 4.75 meters (15′, 7″), because she’ll need at least that for an outside shot to medal.
On an optimistic note, her recent success has been quite consistent with a bronze at the 2011 Pan American Games and silver at the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials. Taking second to Suhr in that meet was just the next step in the process, as is the final in London.