Sunday, March 4, 2012

My Track Heroes: In Lanes 7 and 6...

My next two track heroes to be featured are both fairly recent up-and-comers in the sport of track & field. Both have achieved some amazing accomplishments in the past several years and continue to climb the ranks of their respective competition areas.

In lane 7, Jenn Suhr, the pole vaulting, American record holding phenom. Suhr has been making leaps and bounds in rankings and records in whatever sport she participates in since she was young. Jenn’s drive and determination gives her a step ahead of the competition in everything she does. Attending Robert Wesleyan College in Rochester, New York, Jenn graduated as the all-time leading scorer in basketball and record holder in the high jump, javelin, 400m hurdles, and 100m hurdles. It wasn’t until 2004 that her coach, and now husband, Rick Suhr, introduced Jenn to pole vaulting, and she took to it like a fish to water. The amazing woman seemingly breaks an American record in the event every time she jumps. Since 2005, Jenn Suhr has won 11 national titles between indoor and outdoor competitions, the most recent of those occurring only a week ago at the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

I hold a special respect and admiration for pole vaulters in my heart. They are a crazy group of people who like to launch themselves to heights up to 19 feet in the air and then fall all that way back down. It may just be my slight fear of heights, or the fear of the pole breaking as it launches people upward, but you have to respect anyone who puts themselves through that. Having tried to pole vault before, I know you have to be strong in order to do it. Look at some of the best pole vaulters in the world, look at Jenn Suhr, they are RIPPED. They have to work their entire bodies in order to have the strength to perform the mechanics and techniques needed for shooting themselves that high in the air.

It is not only because of her achievements, her strength, or her athletic drive to be the best that Jenn Suhr is one of My Track Heroes, but it is also because she is a positive and inspiring icon to female athletes across the globe. Suhr is a person that all women can look up to for inspiration in anything. Being one of the most respected and accomplished track & field competitors in the U.S. gives her an amazing pedestal upon which Jenn can inspire hundreds of thousands of women everywhere.

Jenn Suhr came into the competition of pole vaulting being an unknown, unranked competitor and has vaulted her way to the top of the elite pole vaulting world and will continue until she is the best of all time.

In lane 6, Ashton Eaton, the rising star of the multi-events, the decathlon and indoor heptathlon. Ashton Eaton has been one of my favorite athletes for several years now. Coming from Bend, Oregon, Ashton used to compete for Mountain View High School in the Intermountain Conference. Even back then, having competed against Eaton in high school, I would look up to him and think that he was going to be a great track athlete one day. Sure enough, Eaton has gone on to accomplish much as a member of the University of Oregon Ducks and currently as a member of the Oregon Track Club Elite program.

The statistics and achievements: Eaton won three consecutive NCAA titles in decathlon between 2008 and 2010. In 2010, Eaton won the NCAA Indoor Championships and broke the world record in the indoor heptathlon with a score of 6499. Later, in 2011, Eaton went on to break that record again at a combined events meet in Tallinn with a score of 6568, despite underperforming in the high jump. Eaton, in the decathlon, placed fifth at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, second at the 2009 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, 18th in the 2009 World Championships in Athletics, and second at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics.

In my mind, there is no better showing of all-around athleticism than the multi-events of track & field. The multis contain something to satisfy every type of competitor. It astounds me that a person can be so good at all the different types of competitions that are involved in the multi-events, especially at the elite level. You look at some of those men and women competing in the multis and think, “Wow, not only are they good enough to compete at elite level in some of those individual events, but to combine all the events in which they compete and stay at elite status…. That is amazing.”

So hats off to you, Jenn Suhr and Ashton Eaton. Both athletes have achieved much recently in their track & field careers, and rest assured, both have much, much more to achieve. Expect even greater things to come from these two Track Heroes.

Next week, the athletes in lanes 5 and 4 will be revealed. Join me again next Sunday on my blog, Runnin’ Down a Dream.

Disclaimer: Photos portrayed in my blog of professional athletes or athletes other than myself do not belong to me and belong entirely to those who took the photos. The only purpose of using them here is to portray the amazing athletes that I decide to feature in my blogs.

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