Jenn wows the world
blog by Ben Kirst • August 06, 2012 @ 10:57pm
How big was Fredonia native Jenn Suhr’s successful 4.75-meter pole vault attempt in London on Monday?
Pretty big. In one fell swoop, Suhr won the Olympic gold medal for women’s pole vault, outlasted silver medalist Yarisley Silva of Cuba and finally knocked off vaunted Russian champion Yelena Isinbayeva, the mercurial two-time world champion and gold medalist at the Beijing Games in 2008. Former USA decathalete-turned-Yahoo! Sports commentator Dan O’Brien called it “the upset of the Games.”
“It’s such a big upset,” her husband/coach Rick Suhr told The Washington Post, “I don’t think people realize how big it actually is.”
The victory was particularly sweet for the Suhrs, who were cast in a somewhat negative light in 2008 when Rick was seen chewing Jenn out after a disappointing Olympic performance. Hey, that’s what coaches do! That’s all in the past now, and the spotlight will shine brightly on the 2000 New York State pentathalon champion and former Roberts Wesleyan basketball star for her amazing athletic achievements.
Here’s what Jenn had to say on Facebook on Monday night:
It’s very emotional. It’s something that you work so hard for, for four years, and heartbreak and joy, and then some more heartbreak. To overcome it and come out on top is something that whenever I thought of I started crying, so I knew it was just going to be emotional, whenever I thought about how it would feel to win gold. Then I would think of how it would feel to be fourth, and I’d cry over that too. It was definitely something that I’ve wanted, I don’t think I’ve ever wanted anything so bad.
So what is the world saying about our own Jenn Suhr?
FoxNews.com: Suhr, who was runner up to the Russian four years ago, stayed perfect until her winning height, spurred on by another noisy capacity crowd at the Olympic Stadium. “The atmosphere is electric because they bring you alive,” Suhr said. “When I warmed up I felt a little dead, but I fed off them.”
MercuryNews.com (San Jose): Pole vault gold medalist Jenn Suhr wasn’t quite sure she’d ever clear the looming bar that was her nemesis. Elena Isinbaeva, after all, had owned the women’s pole vault as if it were private property. The Russian won two Olympic gold medals, five world championship titles and is the outdoor world record-holder at 16 feet 7 inches. Suhr, 30, was the silver medalist in Beijing four years ago. And truth be told, most figured the best she could do Monday was play the bridesmaid to Isinbaeva again. But husband and coach Rick Suhr had a good feeling Monday. “You’re going to win this,” he told the vaulter. “He’s never said that,” Jenn Suhr said. “That’s not something he says. It put that extra spunk that I can do this, someone else believes in me that much.”
SI.com (Sports Illustrated): “She was really nervous,” recounted Rick, welling up himself, standing in the middle of a row at Olympic Stadium at 10 p.m.. “She was really upset.” The last thing Rick says to Jenn before every competition is, “I’ll see you on the beach,” taken from Rick’s favorite film, “Saving Private Ryan.” They’re both World War II history buffs. Rick added one more line Monday afternoon, something he’d never before said to Jenn. “You’re going to win this.” She did. Suhr became the second U.S. woman to win the Olympic pole vault, joining the event’s 2000 debut champion, Stacy Dragila. She did it by ousting the two-time defending Olympic champion, world-record holder and Russian track and field diva Yelena Isinbayeva.
NationalPost.com (Canada): It was Suhr who left the stadium with the vaulting tiara; in fact, she wore a sparkly headband in competition and afterward, perhaps symbolic of her new place in the sport.
STLToday.com (St. Louis): “It was kind of like being on a boat,” Rick said. “Whether we hit water or land, I just wanted to be off the boat. There was so much pressure.” After Isinbayeva went out, it came down to a final jump by Silva to decide the gold medal. When she missed, the victory was Suhr’s. “I’ve felt so much pressure relieved,” Jenn said. “And so much excitement and joy, all at once.” And Jenn Suhr got to share that joy afterward with her husband. A very different Olympic moment between the two than America saw four years ago.