LONDON - For the first time before a big meet, Jenn Suhr heard a positive message from her husband, Rick, who's also her coach.
While sending Jenn onto the field for the Olympic pole vault final Monday night, Rick told her nobody's unbeatable - not even Russian superstar Yelena Isinbayeva, the two-time champion and world-record holder.
And so, Suhr went out and proved him right, defeating Isinbayeva, capturing a surprise gold and giving a nice boost to the United States track and field team, which hasn't been getting many breaks so far at the London Olympics.
"Before I went out here, he said, 'You're going to win this,'" Suhr said. "I've competed 100 times and that's not something he says. It puts that extra spunk that I could do this. Someone else believes in me that much."
When it was over, Suhr rushed over to the stands to see her husband, who gingerly wrapped an American flag around her shoulders while she sobbed into his chest.
A quite different scene from four years ago in Beijing, when Rick was caught on camera berating Suhr after her disappointing runner-up finish to Isinbayeva. Few knew at the time that they were romantically involved and would be married two years later.
Yes, they've come a long way together, from training in a pair of Quonset huts that Rick connected together to form a jumping pit - the blue-collar practice area in western New York they call "Rocky's Meat Cooler" - to winning an Olympic gold medal on the sport's grandest stage.
Suhr vaulted 15 feet, 7 inches to defeat Cuba's Yarisley Silva, who cleared the same height but lost on a tiebreaker because she had one more miss in the competition.
More significantly, Suhr beat Isinbayeva, who failed to become the first woman to win the same individual track and field event at three consecutive Olympics. Isinbayeva settled for bronze with a vault of 15-5.
"Of course I'm not a fairy tale," she said.
Grenada's Kirani James won the men's 400 meters, the first time since the 1980 Games that someone other than an American won. The U.S. did not have a representative in the final.
Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic took the men's 400-meter hurdles. American Michael Tinsley took the silver.
1 Tucsonan in finals, another Falters
Wildcat Georganne Moline qualified Monday for Wednesday’s finals in the 400-meter hurdles. She finished second in the semifinals in 54.74 seconds, the seventh-best time among the qualifiers. “I never really thought I would be here months ago,” she said.
Shot putter Jill Camarena-Williams, who trains in Tucson and is a volunteer assistant coach for the UA, injured her back and did not qualify for the final. “I can't feel my feet,” she said, weeping as she spoke to reporters at Olympic Stadium after morning qualifying. Camarena-Williams finished 16th in qualifying at 59 feet, 9ƒ inches. She would have had to reach 60-6ƒ to make the cut to 12.
Includes information from a news release and The Arizona Republic