Roy Stevenson wrote on the women’s pole vault. A nice team, but make no mistakes, Jenn Suhr is our country’s Isinbayeva. Jenn Suhr, when she stays healthy, will be in the fight not just for the silver, but for the gold in the women’s pole vault. London’s pole vault will be an epic battle between Yelena Isinbayeva, Jenn Suhr, and Holly Bleasdale.
Here is Roy Stevenson’s column:
By Roy Stevenson
June 24, 2012
“I’ve been dreaming of being an Olympian since I was five. This is my dream. It hasn’t set in”, said ecstatic women’s second place pole-vaulter, Becky Holiday.
Certainly Jen Suhr’s win in the pole vault was no surprise to the knowledgeable crowd at the U.S. trials, but Becky Holiday’s runner up finish, and making the Olympic team, has fulfilled a lifelong dream for this veteran vaulter. “I’m probably the veteran of the field–I’m the oldest on the (PV) team” the 31-year old admitted yesterday.
“I’ve been pole vaulting for 15 years”, says Holiday. Starting as an accomplished gymnast (four-time state champion and three-time regional champion) turned pole-vaulter, Holiday set a collegiate record (4.47m/14-8) in 2003 at the NCAA West Regional at Stanford on May 30. Then she made the U.S. team for the world champs that year (where she placed 11th in the qualifying heat) and the pole-vaulting world seemed to be at her feet.
After meeting with mixed success, injury setbacks, and struggling financially, Becky Holiday has had to wait nine years to make her next U.S. Team. “I haven’t made a team since 2003. I trained at Oregon until 2006, then moved to the training center at Chula Vista, where I lived for free”. Of her financial struggles she says, “I’ve had every job you can think of: Home Depot, airport baggage handler, you name it”. Becky attributes a lot of her success, especially staying injury free, to the physical therapists at Chula Vista, where all treatment is covered for her.
What were Becky’s motivations to continue her uphill battle? “Seeing the Olympic rings at breakfast every morning at Chula Vista reminded me of the job I had to do”. Becky Holiday shows that persistence and ‘stickability’ are 90% of the battle.
Of her performance, Jen Suhr says, ‘I missed my first attempt because I was in my mark, so it was just a matter of backing up a little”. Entering the competition late in the field might be mentally wearing on pole-vaulters, but for Suhr, “I keep my mind off pole-vaulting while I am waiting to jump. I watch other events”.