By Joe Navas
January, 20, 2015- The New Balance Indoor Grand Prix officially kicked off yesterday at a luncheon at Boston’s Lenox Hotel, attended by perennial meet star and reigning Olympic Women’s Pole Vault Gold Medalist, Jenn Suhr.
“(The Reggie Lewis Center) is just such an intimate place,” said Suhr, describing one of the reasons she seems to excel at the small, annually packed arena. “Everyone’s just so close, you can really feel them cheering you on.”
Suhr’s first big success came in the form of a win at this meet in the same Roxbury arena in 2005, her first year of competition. Her run since has been nothing short of dominating, including her 6th and 7th wins following her Gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics.
Still, with the 2016 Games being held in the home country of her present chief rival, Brazilian star and 2011 World Champion Fabiana Murer, Suhr and her coach/husband, Rick Suhr, know that a repeat won’t be easy.
“Next year, in Rio di Janeiro, Fabiana Murer is probably going to be the biggest athlete in the Rio Olympics,” Rick cautions. “She is ranked #1 in the world right now, she is from Brazil, and they love their own down there, so when she steps on the runway…it’s gonna be a big deal.”
The New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, now in its 20th running this year, has seen its share of records and record holders on and inside its fabled oval, which this year sees the debut of a new surface.
Suhr’s total of 7 victories at the Reg leads an impressive trio of those with the most wins at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, ahead of the legendary track duo of Tirunesh Dibaba (with 6) and Meseret Defar (with 5.)
Defar will be competing for the first time since giving birth in 2013.
Other notable names set to race, all familiar to the Reg as well as the world, include 2011 World Champ (and 2014 meet goat) Jenny Simpson, Beijing Olympics Silver Medalist Nick Willis, newly minted Master Bernard Lagat, two-time World Champs medalist Matt Centrowitz, still-only-18 year-old phenom Mary Cain, and 2013 World Championship Bronze Medalist Brenda Martinez.
More stars always seem to pop up and get added in the few weeks leading up to the event each year, so even with this stacked dance card, no one will be surprised to see more top talent challenging the aforementioned for first.