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Catching Up With World Record Pole Vaulter Jenn Suhr

Published by
Scott Bush   Mar 19th 2013, 1:01pm

It's been one heck of a past year for American pole vaulter Jenn Suhr. After dealing with some ups and downs the past few seasons, Suhr claimed victory this past summer at the London Olympics, winning gold and cementing herself in world pole vaulting history.

Fast forward to this indoor track and field season, where Suhr set the world record in the vault with her 16-5.5 win at the U.S. Indoor T&F Championships, as she bested rival Yelena Isinbaeva's mark of 16-5.25. As the outdoor season approaches, Suhr is focused and ready to push her limits once again. 

We caught up with Suhr, discussing her indoor world record, her London gold and how she's grown as an athlete over the past few years.

Scott Bush (SB): At the U.S. Indoor T&F Championships, you bested Yelena Isinbaeva's indoor world record of 16-5.25 with your winning 16-5.5 win. Was it a surprise or did your training indicate it was all just a matter of time before reaching such heights?

Jenn Suhr (JS): My training showed that I was capable of a big jump and if I stayed healthy that it was a matter of time before I cleared a big height in practice. I had jumped these heights in practice before but having the conditions and being healthy is always a factor.

SB: Your best is now less than two inches off of Yelena Isinbaeva's outdoor world record of 16-7.25. Do you feel ready to challenge that mark this year?

JS: Right now, I am enjoying having broken a World Indoor Record.  I am going to begin my pre-season training the same as I have done in the past and follow my normal routine as best I can. I try not to worry about heights and focus on training.

SB: Yelena and yourself have been rivals for many years now. What does it mean to you to best one of her world records, especially after taking home gold in London?

JS: It was a monumental record by an accomplished athlete.  One that people thought would not be broken for a long, long time.  So I am proud to have jumped the height.  And as with any goal driven athlete, I want to try and go even higher.  

SB: After winning the Olympics, how has your perspective on the sport and competing changed?

JS: I am very surprised at the amount of recognition of winning an Olympic gold medal. I was proud of my silver from 2008 but people see a gold as an entirely different thing.  

SB: What's a typical week of training look like for you at this point in your season?

JS: A typical week of training consists of longer running, sprinting, lifting, gymnastics, physio work and film study.  While this is not the same routine everyday…there is usually a combination of at least some of these elements most days.

SB: You've been at the top of the pole vault scene for quite a long time now. What do you attribute to your consistency and top-end performance too?

JS: I attribute being at the top to coaching. I have a coach that understands all the elements needed to be successful in pole vaulting and he is constantly monitoring and adjusting my training. Having such a good coach is invaluable in both practice and meets. I also have a good team of the right agent, sponsor (adidas), and support cast along with surrounding myself with good people.

SB: While the sport tries to find its way in the global sports culture, pole vaulting as an event has pushed its limits (i.e. street vaults). What do you think makes pole vaulting such a unique event in track and field besides the obvious of flying high?

JS: Pole vault is a marketable event. The athletes have great charisma and the fans can be up close when they watch. It has a modern "X Games" factor that can get the crowd into it either through music or clapping. It is also simple to understand. You make the bar you go higher, you miss 3 times and you're out.

SB: You came in to pole vaulting in 2004, while already a standout basketball player at NAIA Roberts Wesleyan. You quickly took to the sport and were on a U.S. squad by the following year. How were you able to be convinced to vault while being such a dominant basketball player?

JS: My basketball career was going to be over after my senior year. I knew that. At first I thought the pole vault looked scary but Rick convinced my to try it and I fell in love with the event.

Quick Six

SB: Favorite food?

JS: Ice Cream (chocolate or vanilla with peanut butter topping)

SB: Best band?

JS: Emeli Sande

SB: Favorite meet?

JS: London Olympics!

SB: Favorite movie?

JS: I can't think of a good one. Any recommendations?

SB: Car you drive?

JS: GMC Yukon Denali. My dog can fit and it carries the poles.

SB: Favorite non-vaulting activity?

JS: Redecorating or designing a room and for a non active activity - going to our cottage on Lake Ontario and watching the sunset with Rick and my dog Tundra.

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Chris Nickinson
Our @scottybush caught up with new indoor PV world record holder @JennSuhr to see what's next for her
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