US pole vaulter Jenn Suhr talks to the press (© Getty Images)
Trayvon Bromell and Jenn Suhr radiated confidence when discussing their upcoming meeting with a group of reporters in Boston. The two will compete at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, the second event of this year's IAAF World Indoor Tour, to be held in the suburb of Roxbury on Sunday (14).
Suhr, who improved the world indoor record to 5.03m at the end of January, was upbeat but wouldn’t commit to a height for Sunday. While she seemed to take for granted the idea of pushing the record up even higher, she cautioned: “The hardest part is the opening heights, the opening bar and another height. I have to clear those. Then we can put it up there.”
She attributed some of her success so far in 2016 to a relatively mild winter.
“We’ve been able to train above freezing,” she said, referring to the small, almost unheated barn-like building in her backyard in New York state where she trains in the winter.
However, Suhr jokingly also raised a note of caution about her ability to continue training there: “I’ve scraped my spikes on the roof before. We’ve looked in to raising the roof. It would be expensive, but it might be time.”
Speaking of a potential Olympic clash with local star and 2011 world champion Fabiana Murer, Suhr commented: “I love that she’s been getting all the attention (in Brazil). It’s been fun to watch the pole vault take centre stage. I wish people would realise how big the vault is going to be (at the Olympics). Finally, a field event.”
Bromell, the world 100m bronze medallist last summer in Beijing and the world junior record-holder at that distance, was just as confident as Suhr.
“I don’t think there’s any pressure,” he said. “There’s more pressure on the older guys. I’ve been treating my first year as a pro like my freshman year in college. When I was a freshman, I won a national (collegiate) title. Hopefully this year I’ll win an Olympic gold medal.”
Bromell’s ambitions for his indoor season were a little more restrained. “I have to think a lot differently about the 60m,” he explained. “Indoor isn’t my strength. It was all new to me in college, and it was a real strain on the brain figuring out how to execute. This year I’ve been running PRs early in the season.”
Bromell said he plans to run the rest of the World Indoor Tour, racing in Stockholm and Glasgow after Boston, with an eye on winning his event overall and the US$20,000 first prize, but he was also clear about his goals for both the indoor and outdoor seasons: “Run better than last year, and drop my times.”
The current men's 60m points leader, Karlsruhe winner Mike Rodgers, will also be racing on Sunday.
Also meeting the press on Friday was Olympic gold medallist Meseret Defar, who will be racing on a track on Sunday for the first time since the 2013 IAAF Diamond League final in Zurich.
Defar, who spoke confidently but quickly reached the limits of her English, was clearly eager to return to the Boston meeting where she’s had success in the past, including a world indoor best over two miles in 2008.
“My training has been good, but I don’t know my shape,” Defar explained, citing that first her daughter born in June 2014, and then an injury in her left leg, kept her from training for nearly three months.
“Afterwards, it was difficult to get back in shape. But my training has been good.”
Looking forward to the outdoor season, Defar said she would focus on the 10,000m, saying: “I don’t have that medal yet.”
USA’s 2013 world 800m medallist Brenda Martinez will be running 1500m on Sunday. Martinez struggled with injury during much of 2015.
“Last year was pretty shaky," she said. "But it left me more hungry."
Unlike in 2014 and 2015, when her indoor season was relatively brief, Martinez plans to race in New York later this month, then the US Championships to try for selection for the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016.
Martinez has also been putting energy into building a training group in her base of Big Bear, California, with a highlight being the arrival of Boris Berian, the fastest US 800m runner in 2016, who will contest the 800m on Sunday.
Parker Morse for IAAF