Things just keep getting better for Jenn Suhr.
After winning Olympic gold in the pole vault in London this past summer, Suhr later set the world indoor record with her jump of 16-feet, 5-1/2-inches at the U.S. Track and Field Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., on March 2.
Now, Track & Field News, ‘the Bible of the sport since 1948,’ has named her the Indoor World Athlete of the Year.
“It’s been a heck of a journey,” Rick Suhr, husband and coach of the Olympian said. “And when you look at what she’s done, it’s an incredible thing. She has 13 U.S. titles, has set 10 American records – which is the most of anyone active in track and field in America – has an Olympic gold and silver, the first person to do that in 40 years, and she now has the world indoor record.”
Suhr graces the cover of the May issue of the magazine, as she is shown during her world-record setting performance.
“She was very excited about the cover,” Rick Suhr said. “She had found out about it on Twitter, because that’s the way the world is.
“She was more in shock when we got the mail (Tuesday),” Rick Suhr continued. “That’s an incredible honor and she was thrilled. That’s like being on the cover of Sports Illustrated and that’s a really cool thing.”
The Fredonia native, who was named Track & Field News’ American Athlete of the Year in 2008 and 2011, has no intentions of slowing down or scaling back her schedule either.
“The last time she jumped, she set a world record,” Rick Suhr said. “There’s just no limiting her. She just wants to keep going and keep competing.
“She does have her eye on Rio in four years,” he noted. “There are two major things in track and field: One of them is to win Olympic gold and the other is to set a world record and she’s done both. It’s a little surreal to think about. You go back to 2000 and she’s running around the track in Fredonia in the heptathlon and now she’s one of the most celebrated athletes in the world.”
Suhr was also recently nominated for the Hickok Belt Award for the month of February, which is an award voted on by a panel from the National Sportscaster’s and Sports Writer’s Association. She was beat out by Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco.
“She’s become the Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan of what she does,” Rick Suhr said.
Despite a busy schedule, the Suhrs still make every attempt to get back to the area to share her accomplishments with her family, friends and anyone else she meets along the way.
“She’s really become the pride and joy of the people around there,” Rick Suhr said of his wife. “They are absolutely thrilled and they’ve become a pretty big part of it.
With warmer weather approaching, Suhr will now focus on competing outdoors, where she still has goals she wants to achieve.
“She’s healthy right now,” Rick Suhr said. “She hasn’t been healthy in three years, but right now, she’s pretty healthy. So I think she can do some real special things. She has the world record in indoors and now she wants to pursue the world record in outdoors also.”
In order to hold both the indoor and outdoor world records, Suhr will have to surpass 2008 Olympic gold medalist Yelena Isinbayeva, who holds the current record at 16-7 1/4.
“There’s always the elements outdoors,” Rick Suhr said. “But I think the indoor (world record) is actually harder to jump because you don’t have the wind behind you to help.”
Suhr will compete in the Kansas Relays in two weeks and in the Drake Relays at the University of Iowa the week after.
“Right now, as Alicia Keys would say, ‘the girl is on fire,'” Rick Suhr said. “In a very short period of time she’s won Olympic gold, set a world record and has been named Athlete of the Year. That’s a pretty good run.”