Jenn Suhr

American Suhr aims to calm Isinbayeva mania in Moscow

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Jenn Suhr, the Olympic pole vault champion, felt anxious for months leading up to the World Championships. The prospect of facing two-time Olympic champion Yelena Isinbayeva, in Isinbayeva’s home country, in Isinbayeva’s last competition, was unsettling, even after defeating her at the London Games.

Then Suhr flew across the Atlantic, got off the airplane and saw something in Moscow that calmed her considerably.

“A billboard of myself,” she said. “It made me realize it’s a great opportunity.”

The women’s pole vault final at Luzhniki Stadium on Tuesday (11:35 a.m. Eastern time, Universal Sports coverage starts at noon) is not solely the Isinbayeva show, despite the recent flurry of Russian headlines.

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The diva of pole vaulting announced in July that was ready to retire.

“My career will finish 100 percent at the World Championships,” she told R-Sport at the time. “For me it will be a nostalgic moment, I should get pleasure from the performance, and I will try to show the best I can.”

Isinbayeva, 31, backtracked a bit Sunday, though.

“I’m not ending my career … I’ll start a family, I’ll give birth and I’ll try and return and reclaim all my gold medals,” she told R-Sport. “If it doesn’t work out, then I’ll announce my retirement. Right now I’m not leaving. I’m taking another break because I want to have children. I’ll definitely miss the next season, and after that we’ll see.”

Suhr ended Isinbayeva’s reign at the Olympics. The Russian had broken the world record 17 times since 2003 and won two Olympics, two outdoor world championships and four indoor world championships in between.

Suhr cried before the final in London, but listened to a pre-competition pep talk from coach and husband Rick Suhr, who followed up his usual “Saving Private Ryan” line — “I’ll see you on the beach” — with a confident, “You’re going to win this.”

The gold-medal favorite Tuesday may be neither Suhr nor Isinbayeva. Enter Cuban Yarisley Silva, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist. She owns the five highest jumps of 2013, including one at 4.90 meters, a personal best that would have bettered Suhr in London.

Suhr, the 2008 Olympic silver medalist, became the first U.S. woman to win the Olympic title since Stacy Dragila in the first Olympic women’s pole vault in 2000.

Her post-Olympic highlights included pole vaulting in awkward settings — a golf course and in a fieldhouse at a Buffalo Bills game. It’s not out of the ordinary for the Rochester, N.Y., native, who has been known to train in Quonset huts.

The setting in Moscow will also be unique with Isinbayeva mania, but Suhr is now ready for the occasion.

“This is one of the first meets ever that you’ll have three of the top women ever have jumped,” she said. “It’s exciting to be involved in.”

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Weightlifting investigation finds doping cover-ups

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BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — An investigation into the International Weightlifting Federation has found doping cover-ups and millions of dollars in missing money, lead investigator Richard McLaren said Thursday.

McLaren said 40 positive doping tests were “hidden” in IWF records and that athletes whose cases were delayed or covered up went on to win medals at the world championships and other events. The cases will be referred to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

McLaren said former IWF president Tamas Ajan was “an autocratic leader” who kept the board in the dark about finances. Ajan received cash payments, some as much as $100,000, as doping fines from national federations or sponsors, McLaren said.

He said $10.4 million was unaccounted for.

“Everyone was kept in financial ignorance through the use of hidden bank accounts (and transfers),” McLaren said. “Some cash was accounted for, some was not.”

McLaren said Ajan “permitted the (federation) elections to be bought by vote brokers” as he kept the presidency and promoted favored officials. Large cash withdrawals were made ahead of federation congresses, McLaren said, adding that voters were bribed and had to take pictures of their ballots to show to brokers.

The 81-year-old Ajan stepped down in April, ending a 20-year reign as president and a total 44 years in federation posts. A month before that he also gave up his honorary membership of the International Olympic Committee.

McLaren’s investigation was sparked in January when German broadcaster ARD reported financial irregularities at the federation and apparent doping cover-ups.

McLaren, a Canadian law professor, was the World Anti-Doping Agency’s lead investigator for Russian doping and has judged cases at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Weightlifting’s reputation under Aján had already been hit by dozens of steroid doping cases revealed in retests of samples from the Olympics since 2008.

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MORE: Coco Gauff delivers speech demanding change

Coco Gauff delivers speech, demands change, promises to use platform

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Coco Gauff, the 16-year-old tennis star, delivered a speech at a peaceful protest in her hometown on Wednesday, demanding change and promising to use her platform to spread vital information.

“I’ve been spending all week having tough conversations, trying to educate my non-black friends on how they can help the movement,” Gauff told a crowd, holding an affixed microphone atop a lectern in front of Delray Beach City Hall in Florida, after her grandmother spoke. “You need to use your voice, no matter how big or small your platform is. You need to use your voice. I saw a Dr. [Martin Luther] King quote that said, ‘The silence of the good people is worse than the brutality of the bad people.'”

Earlier this week, Gauff posted links on her social media accounts — with more than 800,000 combined followers — to register to vote and a petition for justice for the death of George Floyd. On Wednesday, she shared video of her participating in a march, saying her hometown police chief was part of the group.

Click here for NBC News’ coverage of Floyd’s death and protests in Minneapolis and around the country.

Last summer, Gauff, then 15, became the youngest player to reach Wimbledon’s fourth round since Jennifer Capriati in 1991. She followed that with third- and fourth-round runs at the U.S. Open and the Australian Open, sandwiched between her first WTA Tour title.

The full text of the beginning of her speech, which she shared on social media:

“Hello everyone. My name is Coco, and who just spoke was my grandma. I think it’s sad that I’m here protesting the same thing that she did 50-plus years ago. So I’m here to tell you guys this: that we must, first, love each other no matter what. We must have the tough conversations with my friends. I’ve been spending all week having tough conversations, trying to educate my non-black friends on how they can help the movement. Second, we need to take action. Yes, we’re all out here protesting, and I’m not of age to vote, but it’s in your hands to vote for my future, for my brother’s future and for your future. So that’s one way to make change. Third, you need to use your voice, no matter how big or small your platform is. You need to use your voice. I saw a Dr. [Martin Luther] King quote that said, ‘The silence of the good people is worse than the brutality of the bad people.’ So, you need to not be silent, because if you are choosing silence, you’re choosing the side of the oppressor. So, I’ve heard many things this past week. One of the things I’ve heard is, well, it’s not my problem. This is why I have to tell you this. If you listen to black music. If you like black culture. If you have black friends. Then this is your fight, too. It’s not your job. It’s not your duty to open your mouth to say, ‘Lil Uzi Vert‘s my favorite artist, but I don’t care what happened to George Floyd.’ Now how does that make sense? So, I demand change now. It’s sad that it takes another black man’s life to be lost for all of this to happen, but we have to understand that this has been going on for years. This is not just about George Floyd. This is about Trayvon Martin. This is about Eric Garner. This is about Breonna Taylor. This is about stuff that’s been happening. I was 8 years old when Trayvon Martin was killed. So why am I here at 16 still demanding change? And it breaks my heart because I’m fighting for the future for my brothers. I’m fighting for the future for my future kids. I’m fighting for the future for my future grandchildren. So, we must change now, and I promise to always use my platform to spread vital information.”

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