Good As Gold!

Fredonia Native Jenn Suhr Wins Olympic Pole Vault Title

Fredonia native Jenn Suhr won the Olympic gold medal in women’s pole vault at the 2012 London games. AP file photo

EDITOR’S NOTE: Fredonia native Jenn Suhr won the Olympic gold medal in the pole vault Aug. 6, 2012, in London. Eight years later, with the 2020 Olympics canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this story was deemed appropriate to run again.

Jenn Suhr, Olympic gold medalist. The Fredonia native outlasted a field of 12 pole vaulters Monday in the London Olympics to claim the coveted prize.

Suhr, despite being unable to clear 4.8 meters (15 feet, 7 inches), captured first place after Cuba’s Yarisley Silva was also unable to clear the same mark. Suhr won the tie-breaker because Silva had one more miss in the competition.

“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,” Suhr told the Associated Press. “To overcome it and come out on top is something that whenever I thought of I started crying, so I knew it was going to be emotional, whenever I thought about how it would feel to win gold. Then I would think 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.”

Suhr’s victory ended Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva’s bid for a third straight Olympic gold medal.

Jen Suhr walks on the track after winning the women’s pole vault at the 2012 Olympics in London. AP file photo

“To beat Yelena and her resume and her records, it’s an honor,” Suhr told the AP. That’s the only thing I can say, to have someone so good in the field and come out on top, it really is an honor. It’s a special title in that situation.”

With the bar set at 4.7 meters (15.42 feet), five pole vaulters remained — Suhr, Silva, Isinbayeva, Germany’s Martina Strutz and Silke Spiegelburg. Strutz bowed out after being unable to clear the mark. Suhr, Silva and Isinbayeva cleared the height on their first attempt and Spiegelburg deferred to the next mark after she was unable to clear 4.7.

With the bar raised to 4.75 meters, Spiegelburg was eliminated after being unable to clear the mark.

With Spiegelburg out, Suhr was guaranteed at least a bronze

Suhr and Silva both missed on their first attempt at 4.75, but cleared the bar on their second attempt. Isinbayeva failed to clear 4.75 twice, and elected to pass to 4.8.

There, Suhr missed her first attempt.

Suhr could be seen talking to her coach and husband Rick Suhr, telling him, “I had to power through the wind. … That was a head wind.”

Silva also failed to clear 4.8 and Isinbayeva was eliminated after not clearing 4.8 after her first try.

With a gold medal in sight, Suhr could not power through the wind and rain again as she was unable to clear the bar. However, Silva could not clear 4.8, and because she had more faults than Suhr throughout the competition, the 2000 Fredonia graduate was awarded the gold medal.

“It’s terrific. I couldn’t pick better representation for the United States of America than to have Jenn out there with the American flag,” Jenn’s father, Mark Stuczynski told WDOE. “She’s really worked hard, she sacrificed a lot. … It was a real good match and that’s what it’s all about.”

“I am beside myself,” Jenn’s mother Sue Stuczynski told WDOE. “I am so happy for her and Rick. They have worked so hard. Rick knows what he is doing. And he knew Jenn was the best when everyone else counted her out.”


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