Brockport became the world capital of track and field on Saturday, thanks to Jenn Suhr.
The current Olympic gold medalist broke her own world indoor record in the pole vault during the Brockport Golden Eagle Multi and Invitational. She cleared the bar at 5.03 meters, which is 16 feet, 6 inches. That was a centimeter higher than her record of 5.02, set in 2013.
The SUNY Brockport facility is a somewhat unlikely spot for a world record, but the fans in attendance were thrilled to see it take place in front of them.
“I’ll give them credit – they were amped up,” said Rick Suhr, Jenn’s coach and husband. “There might have been 500 to 600 people in that facility. But there wasn’t a cellphone that wasn’t on.
“You can have an 80,000-person building, and if they aren’t into it, it won’t help. But they were ready even when she came in at 15-1 earlier.”
Jenn Suhr, a graduate of Fredonia High School and Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, cleared the bar on her third attempt. She lives in Riga near Rochester. She seems in top form as the Olympics in Rio de Janiero draw near.
“I think it’s just a case where she’s been ready to jump,” Rick Suhr said. “She had the highest jump in the world in December, and the highest jump in January, and now this.
“We’re in great shape. It’s a week before her 34th birthday, and this is higher than she’s ever gone.”
It’s rare that a world record is set in such a small meet. Rick Suhr thought Jenn got a boost from the location.
“Travel is tough,” he said. “To go 15 minutes down the road and do this, it’s huge for track and field in the area. To go to a small meet to jump for a world record at sea level ... it just shows what she can do.”
Rick Suhr thought the world-record performance was some good news for a sport that has taken some lumps lately concerning reports of a doping scandal.
“Track and field is on fire,” he said. “It has its own battles and a lot of negative press, both in the United States and the world. We need positive reinforcement. We need a leader. I really believe that Jenn is the only athlete we have that can threaten to set a world record anytime she jumps.”
Her next chance to go higher is about two weeks away.
“We’ll jump on Valentine’s Day in the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston,” Rick Suhr said. “That’s our first major meet. Most likely, we probably won’t jump in the world indoors in March, even though it’s in the United States. I don’t think it will go with our training. We’ll probably go down South for outdoor meets.”
Jenn Suhr also won a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics. The United States Olympic trials will be held in Eugene, Ore., in early July.