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Suhr wins Olympic Gold

Jenn Suhr wins Olympic Gold

Jenn Suhr wins Olympic Gold

LONDON – Long the best pole vaulter in the United States, Jenn Suhr officially became the best pole vaulter in the world Monday evening when she won the gold medal in a stirring competition at Olympic Stadium. On the track, Michael Tinsley won a surprising, and well-earned, silver in the men’s 400m hurdles.

Suhr shines

Having recovered from a 2012 season that saw her struggle with achilles problems in the indoor season and quad problems this outdoor season, Suhr (Churchville, N.Y.) jumped efficiently, strategically and well throughout the windy, blustery night. By the time the 2008 silver medalist entered the competition and recorded a first-attempt clearance at 4.55m/14 feet, 11 inches, she was already in the top four, and Becky Holliday (Jonesboro, Ark.) had placed ninth with a best clearance of 4.45/14-7.25.

Suhr passed at 4.65/15-3, and three other women remained when she resumed jumping at 4.70m/15-5: Yarisley Silva of Cuba, Silke Spiegelburg of Germany and world record holder and defending gold medalist Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia. Suhr again cleared on her first try, as did Silva and Isinbayeva. Spiegelburg missed and passed to the next height of 4.75m/15-7.

All four women missed their first attempts at 4.75, and Suhr took the lead when she cleared on her second attempt. Silva then followed with a second-attempt clearance to set a Cuban national record and take over second place, owing to a miss on her opening jump at 4.45m/14-7.25. Spiegelburg had two misses to bow out of the competition. Isinbayeva missed twice and passed on her third attempt as the bar rose to 4.80m/15-9.

Suhr, Silva and Isinbayeva all missed on their first try at 4.80, knocking Isinbayeva out of the competition and leaving a two-woman duel. Jumping first in the order, Suhr missed on her second attempt, as did Silva. Suhr again was not close on her third try, putting Silva in a position to control her own destiny: win and get the gold, miss and get the silver.

Silva missed.

With her victory, Suhr joined Stacy Dragila (2000) – whose American records she has rewritten – as American Olympic gold medalists in the event.

Tinsley torches final meters
In the men’s 400m hurdles final, many had wondered if 2000 and 2008 gold medalist Angelo Taylor could do the impossible at age 33, but it was another American who stole the show.

Taylor (Atlanta, Ga.) got out at a strong pace and executed well, coming off the final turn with a narrow lead over Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic and Javier Culson of Puerto Rico. The duo pulled even with Taylor and soon passed him to make it appear a 1-2 Caribbean showing was on tap.  Michael Tinsley (Round Rock, Texas) had other ideas, coming seemingly from out of nowhere off the last hurdle to sprint to second place, crossing the line in a personal best of 47.91. The 2004 Olympic champion, Sanchez duplicated Taylor’s feat of winning Olympic gold 8 years apart with his time of 47.63 (coincidentally, the same time as his 2004 win). Culson was third in 48.10, Dai Greene of Great Britain was fourth in 48.24, Taylor finished fifth in 48.25 and Kerron Clement was eighth in 49.15, six months after undergoing surgery for hernia repair and adductor release.

Women’s SP, SC
Michelle Carter (Ovilla, Texas) logged the best Olympic showing by a U.S. women’s shot putter in 16 years, placing sixth Monday night. She opened her competition with a throw of 19.05m/62-6 and was in seventh after three rounds. She improved to 19.42/63-8.75 in round 4 to move up to fifth, but could not improve on that mark and finished sixth for the highest finish by a U.S. woman since Connie Price-Smith, a member of the 2012 Olympic Team staff, was fifth in 1996.Nadzeya Ostapchuk of Belarus won in 21.36m/70-1, with 2008 Olympic champion Valerie Adams finishing second in 20.70m/67-11, and 22-year-old Evgeniia Kolodko of Russia third in a personal best of 20.48m/67-2.25.

In the final of the women’s 3,000m steeplechase final, Emma Coburn (Crested Butte, Colo.) knocked nearly two seconds off of her personal best as she crossed the line in  9:23.54 in ninth place. Bridget Franek (Eugene, Ore.) took 14th in 9:45.51. Yuliya Zaripova of Russia charged to the finish to win in 9:06.72.