While You Were Asleep: Former Olympic pole vault champion Suhr announces retirement, Mitchell, Blundell steady NZ, FIFA increases squad limit for Qatar 2022


London Olympic women’s pole vault gold medallist, Jenn Suhr, announced her retirement on Thursday. Suhr, 40, ends a career that spanned close to 17 years.

Suhr, who won Olympic silver in Beijing before capturing gold in London four years later, had already opted out of the national championships, which are the selection meeting for the World Championships at the same Hayward Field venue in July.

Suhr, who toppled Russian Yelena Isinbayeva in London, still owns the highest indoor clearance ever of 5.02m, set at the 2013 US championships.

She won the indoor world title in 2016.

Due to an illness, Suhr was not at her best in attempting to defend her gold medal during the 2016 games in Rio.

“The words will come to me soon but my heart and soul are ready for the next phase of my life,” the 40-year-old Suhr, posted on social media.

“Pole vault unlocked more than I could have wished for and let me experience more than I could have dreamed of.”

“I say goodbye, not with a heavy heart, but with an enthusiasm that fills my heart and soul. This small town girl is ready for some small town living,” Suhr said.

Mitchell, Blundell lead New Zealand fightback

A solid unbeaten 102-run stand for the sixth wicket between Daryl Mitchell (78 batting) and Tom Blundell (45 batting) helped New Zealand to recover and to end the first day of the third and final Test on 225 for 5 on Thursday.

Henry Nicholls fell in bizarre fashion just before tea, New Zealand were tottering on 123-5, but Mitchell and Blundell led the fightback with an unbroken century stand. Nicholls, who scored 19 off 99 balls, launched a drive off the bowling off Jack Leach, only to see the ball strike Mitchell’s bat at the non striker’s end and ricochet into the hands of Alex Lees at mid-off.

Blundell and Mitchell, who have shared partnerships of 195 and 236 already in this three-match series in which England holds an unassailable 2-0 lead.

Stuart Broad set the tone for an impressive bowling performance by England, ending the day with figures of 2-45 off his 17 overs as the pacer relished the responsibility of being the senior man in England’s attack in the absence of fellow veteran James Anderson.

After New Zealand won the toss, Broad removed Tom Latham for a duck off the sixth ball of the day and got another edge to remove Kane Williamson for 31 before lunch.

FIFA increases squad limit

Football’s governing body FIFA has increased the maximum squad limit up to 26 from 23 for this year’s World Cup to be held in Qatar. The showpiece event in Qatar will run from November 21 to December 18.

“The number of players to be included on the final list has been increased to at least 23 and a maximum of 26,” FIFA said in a statement.

“No more than 26 people (up to 15 substitutes and 11 team officials) will be allowed to sit on the team bench.”

UEFA took a similar decision last year, allowing sides to pick three extra players for the European Championship due to the pandemic.

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