A sick Jenn Suhr can't defend title in Olympic pole vault
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) The pole vault world-record holder was banned. The hometown favorite didn't make it through qualifying.
It was all perfectly set up for Jenn Suhr to win another Olympic gold medal.
It didn't happen.
The American couldn't overcome a respiratory infection that left her dizzy, coughing up blood earlier in the day and throwing up twice near the pole vault area during the competition.
Suhr ended up tied for seventh Friday in an event won Ektaterini Stefanidi of Greece. Sandi Morris of the United States finished with silver and Eliza McCartney of New Zealand wound up with bronze.
''I feel horrible,'' said Suhr, who captured Olympic gold four years ago in London and silver at the 2008 Beijing Games. ''I'm actually getting concerned. It's going on Day 10 and I feel worse today.''
Her next stop - home to New York get treatment for this mysterious illness.
''They think it's respiratory and now in the lungs. This morning I was coughing up blood,'' the 34-year-old Suhr said. ''It's getting scary.''
Just when the path to another gold medal appeared wide open.
Suhr's top competitor was supposed to be Yelena Isinbayeva, the world-record holder who has been banned from the games, along with dozens of other Russians, because of a doping investigation. Isinbayeva called it quits on Friday as she focuses on a new career in sports politics and even mulls over an offer to lead the Russian track and field team.
Also missing from the field was Fabiana Murer, the Brazilian who was expected to get in the mix for a medal but didn't make it out of qualifying.
''It's such a crappy feeling to know you've worked four years for this and for this to happen,'' Suhr said. ''It's embarrassing, too.''
Early on, Suhr thought she felt OK enough to compete. While warming up, she was clearing the bar at 4.90 meters, which would've won this competition. It didn't carry over into the final. Stefanidi and Morris both cleared the same height - 4.85 - but Stefanidi had fewer misses.
''I was like, `I'm on,''' Suhr said. ''After warmups, everything shut down. My muscles - I've never had them shake.
''I just want to get out of here and go home and figure it out.''