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“Blurred nightmare”: USA’s Suhr posts heartwrenching letter to fans

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Jenn Suhr’s goals went from defending her gold medal to just getting out of bed to compete in Rio.

The 2012 Olympic champion in the women’s pole vault, Suhr became “sicker than I have ever been” once she arrived in Brazil in what she’s calling “a blurred nightmare”.

Suhr finished tied for 7th in Rio after clearing 4.6m, which is still impressive considering 4.75 won her gold in London, though she had aims of hitting 4.9.

Gold winner Ekaterini Stefanidi of Greece cleared 4.85, the same height as American silver winner Sandi Morris. The bronze distance was 4.80, won by New Zealand’s Eliza McCartney.

Suhr hails from Western New York, whose populace likes to view itself as the most blue of blue collar types, and she lamented her position in saying, “Western New Yorkers are tough, we are workers, and we don’t quit. We give 100% even if we aren’t.”

Read the full statement below. We want to give her a high-five and tell her we understand, and that she should feel no shame.

The feeling of disappointing yourself is hard to handle. The feeling of disappointing others is even harder. I am…

Posted by Jenn Suhr on Saturday, August 20, 2016

Jenn Suhr will defend title in Rio, waits on Yelena Isinbayeva

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — American Jenn Suhr has been paying more attention to pole vaulting than politics lately.

Now that she’s in the Olympics, the defending champion says that, sure, she’d like to see her biggest rival there, too.

“I’d like to compete against the best,” Suhr said Sunday at U.S. Track and Field Trials, when asked about the prospect of facing Russian world-record holder Yelena Isinbayeva. “I was told that I was misinformed on some things when I made my comment before. Maybe people know a little more than I do, I don’t know. If everything is honest, then yes.”

Isinbayeva is part of the Russian team that’s been banned by track’s governing body, the IAAF, from competing in Rio de Janeiro because of a doping scandal in her home country. She is among the 68 Russians who have petitioned the Court of Arbitration for Sport to compete. A decision is due July 21.

Asked a similar question about Isinbayeva in May, Suhr shared similar thoughts: that she would like to see Isinbayeva competing in Rio.

In a subsequent interview with The Associated Press, USA Track and Field president Stephanie Hightower said Suhr was “misguided.” Hightower, a member of the IAAF council that voted to ban the Russians, said Isinbayeva’s comments protesting the IAAF’s action were a sign the Russian “is condoning the corrupt system over there.”

Since that, Suhr put the doping scandal on the back burner to focus on making the U.S. team. In prelims at trials, she went conservative, taking fewer steps in her approach to make sure she would clear a height and advance. She was cautious in the final, too, winning with a height of 15 feet, 9 inches (4.80 meters).

“A relief, honestly,” she said. “I just want to get out of here. I want to go home. I haven’t enjoyed life in a while.”

The Suhr-Isinbayeva matchup stands as one of the handful of truly compelling rivalries in track and field. Isinbayeva beat out Suhr in 2008 for her second straight Olympic gold, before taking bronze in the London Games that Suhr won.

They await word on whether there will be an Olympic rematch.

“I always said I wanted to compete against the best,” Suhr said. “If everything is on the up and up — and the people who know more than I do say, ‘Yeah, she’s in,’ she’s in. Right now, I have no control over it. I’m happy that I’m in.”

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Jenn Suhr wants Yelena Isinbayeva to compete in Rio

Jenn Suhr, Yelena Isinbayeva
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BOSTON (AP) — The IAAF could all-but guarantee American Jenn Suhr a gold medal if it bans the entire Russian track team from the Rio de Janeiro Games.

Suhr is hoping that doesn’t happen.

The defending Olympic champion said Thursday that she wants to compete against the top competition this Summer in Rio — and that means Yelena Isinbayeva, the winner in 2004 and ’08 and the world record-holder.

“If you don’t have your best people in the event, then it’s not really the true event,” Suhr said Thursday.

Her husband and coach, Rick Suhr, went even further.

“If you’re going to have an Olympic final, you’re going to want Jenn in there and you’re going to want Yelena Isinbayeva in there. It’s the Ali-Frazier” of pole vaulting, he said.

“Without them, is it really even the Olympic final?” Rick Suhr said. “They’re the greatest pole vaulters who have ever touched a pole. The spectators and the world deserve to see the best people jump.”

Track’s international governing body is expected to decide on Friday whether to ban the entire Russian track and field team from the Rio Games as punishment for a widespread, state-backed doping scheme. Russia has insisted that it has abided by all international requests to clean up its program and that its athletes should be allowed to compete in Rio.

On Thursday, Isinbayeva wrote in The New York Times that she understood the need “to take strong action to eradicate doping.”

“But I do not think it is fair to forbid me and other clean Russian athletes to compete — athletes who have repeatedly proved they are innocent of cheating,” she said. “The IAAF should not punish all of us for the wrongdoing of some.”

Suhr agrees.

“If people are clean, they should be allowed to compete,” she said before the Boost Boston Games, which will include a “street meet,” with the 100 meter event and the pole vault and long jump on an Olympic specification track temporarily laid out along the Boston Common.

Suhr, who won the gold medal in London and is the current World Indoor champion and world record-holder, stressed that she would like to see the sport cleaned up but doesn’t see the point in punishing those who haven’t been found guilty of doping.

Rick Suhr said governing bodies could kill the sport they are trying to clean up.

“Track is dying,” he said. “The only way you are ever going to get fans out watching track and field again is to put the absolute best out there.”

MORE: Suhr wins World Indoor title