Suhr Makes Family Proud
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.
With more than 40 friends and family members at the Stuczynski household in Fredonia on Monday, Mark and Sue Stuczynski watched their daughter, Jenn Suhr, leap to Olympic gold at the 2012 London Olympics. Before the end of the night, the proud parents got a chance to talk to the pride of Fredonia.
“We just told her we are very proud,” Mark said.
Fredonia native Jennifer Suhr poses with her gold medal for the women’s pole vault in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
“We told her about the reaction of the community and the support she has around here. We wanted to relay to her how exciting it was. There is a lot of support for her and a lot of enthusiasm.”
While Monday was an exciting day for the Stuczynski household, Tuesday was a day of catching up as they tried to return all 22 voicemails which accumulated in a matter of 90 minutes.
Suhr outlasted Cuba’s Yarisley Silva and former two-time Olympic gold medalist Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva.
“It’s amazing,” Mark added. “We are proud of her. We are more happy for her. We know how much she sacrificed. She had double sessions during Thanksgiving so she was not home for dinners. There were a lot of sacrifices as far as family functions. It was true commitment and her dedication to the sport.
“When they put that much on the line, you want to see them succeed.”
The gold medal in women’s pole vault returns to the USA for the first time since 2000 when Stacy Dragila took home the coveted prize.
During the last few jumps for Suhr during the finals Monday, the 2000 Fredonia High School graduate could be seen shaking her head. To some it may have seemed she wasn’t too confident, but Mark compared her demeanor to communication between a pitcher and catcher during a baseball game.
“They have signals on what pole to use,” he clarified. “With the condition on the track and how she was working, sometimes it’s communication on strategy. It’s like when a pitcher waves off a catcher on a pitch selection. She and (coach) Rick (Suhr) were just going back and forth.”
Mark said he had more confidence in Suhr’s potential to get a gold when Isinbayeva was eliminated, but knew Silva could be the Cinderella Story.
“Yelena is a pressure jumper,” he said. “But she is not used to doing multiple jumps. Usually she just jumps against herself and old records. She was pushed (Monday). I was really impressed with (Silva). She was strong and had good technique. She didn’t seem rattled or nervous for someone in their first Olympics. She scared me. I don’t know much about her.”
For Suhr, Monday’s reward was all about her hard work and overcoming adversity since the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
“She fought through injuries and the gluten allergies,” Mark said. “It was a lot to overcome. She tore her quad during training for the indoor season. She was wondering how she was going to announce she wouldn’t make the Olympics. The early prognosis didn’t look good originally.”
As for Suhr coming back to Fredonia anytime soon, Mark was unsure as his daughter has more meets in Europe in the near future and may just stay overseas until those conclude.
“We are just thankful to Dunkirk, Fredonia and all of Western New York,” Mark concluded. “Everywhere we go, there has been great support. We are thankful for the community to be behind her. She is the girl you want to represent USA with her morals and attributes.”