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Jenn Suhr prepares to defend her Olympic gold

She sat in front of a television broadcasting the Opening Ceremonies from Rio, watching in her Team USA t-shirt instead of marching in the Parade of Nations in her Ralph Lauren outfit. That’s been the Olympic routine for Jenn Suhr. Rio will be the third Olympic Games for the pole valuter and never has she attended the opening or closing festivities. Which is part her plan. The Fredonia native loves summer in Western New York and wants to spend as much time as she can training in the area while visiting her favorite places and meeting friends and fans.

“Before I leave the U.S. I always like to visit some of my favorite places,” Suhr said Friday night at a send-off party at (716) Food and Sport restaurant. “Western New York, I mean I could chose to live anywhere I live here and I think that says a lot for the community and the support that I feel. I couldn’t imagine being somewhere else. I always say if you come from Western New York you’re a little bit tougher and you appreciate things.”

Suhr will leave on Monday giving her a week to prepare in Rio before the pole vault qualification on Aug. 16 with the finals on Aug. 19. Suhr is the defending Olympic champion, also with a silver medal from the 2008 Games. But no matter how many times she has competed on the world stage, there is always uncertainty.

“I’m always nervous going in,” Suhr said. “You always want one more practice, one more competition but things are looking good right now and all I can do is go in knowing I prepared the best that I could and whatever happens, happens.”

What happens after Rio has already been decided. Suhr announced this week that she is not ready to retire and will work toward the Tokyo Games in 2020.

“I’m going into these Games full speed,” Suhr said. “I’ve won silver. I’ve won gold. Coming into this I want to give everything ... and I’m going to put it all out there but I’m not at the part of my career where I’m holding on. I’m getting stronger. It’s important to me to let people know whatever happens here, I’ve got another four.”

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