Jennifer Stuczynski Suhr
Olympic Pole Vault Gold Medalist
Growing up in Fredonia, NY, Jennifer Suhr didn’t dream of becoming a gold medal pole-vaulter, much less the top-ranked vaulter in the world. In fact, in high school she didn’t even join the track and field team until her senior year, instead opting to excel in volleyball, basketball, soccer and golf. However, she joined the school’s track team in her senior year, and people took notice when she won the state title in the pentathlon.
Suhr attended Roberts Wesleyan College and continued to excel in basketball, leading her team to two appearances in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) championship game. She was named the NCCAA Women’s Basketball Player of the Year in 2004, averaging 24.3 points per game and ended her career as the all-time leading scorer at Roberts Wesleyan with 1,819 points.
Fortunately, she also found time to participate in track, winning NCCAA titles in javelin, the 100-meter hurdles and, of course, the pole vault. She set school records in that event, the 100-meter hurdles, the javelin, high jump, 400-meter hurdles, the 4×100 relay and the 4×400 relay.
In the spring of 2004, while a senior at Roberts Wesleyan, she joined forces with legendary pole vault coach Rick Suhr, who had already mentored two national high school champions, and the march to Olympic glory began. Under her new coach’s guidance, Suhr, in just six weeks, jumped 11 feet, 4 inches at the NAIA Championships and finished in sixth place.
With the combination of Suhr’s superb coaching skills and Jenn’s hard work, dedication and drive for nothing less than perfection, she rose to the top of the sport, becoming the U.S. National Indoor Champion in 2005 and 2008, and the U.S. National Outdoor Champion in 2006, 2007, and 2008, earning the ranking of second in the world, with only world-record holder Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia in front of her.
The stage was set to earn a trip to the 2008 Summer Games and Suhr proved she was ready for the big stage as she set a new U.S. Outdoor record of 16’1¾” during the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon. During the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, she vaulted 15’9” effort to earn the silver medal, and her Olympic dream became a reality.
The Beijing games were only the starting point for Suhr, and she set her sights on the 2012 Olympic Games in London. At that event, Suhr vaulted past the competition, earning Olympic gold with her jump of 15’9”. Most recently, she captured silver at the 2013 World Championships and is the current World Indoor record holder.