Catching up with Sam Kendricks: 2017 World Champion in pole vault Special

Posted Aug 26, 2017 by Markos Papadatos
On August 26, World Champion pole vaulter Sam Kendricks chatted with Digital Journal. He discussed his win at the London Championships, hearing the national anthem in his honor, and he opened up about the impact of technology on pole vault.
Sam Kendricks at the 2017 World Championships in London
Sam Kendricks at the 2017 World Championships in London
Daniel Mitchell
On August 8, the Mississippi native was victorious at the 2017 World Championships in London, where he cleared 5.95 meters, and earned a gold medal for the United States of America. "All of a sudden, you are a part of the end of the program. I spent my whole early years of training, looking at videos of the Olympics and the Helsinki World Games ,and all the various World Championships, and I thought it would be cool to actually be in one of these videos, cause they only show the end of the competition. You've got to be in it to win it, to get some face-time on these big stages, which is cool. All of a sudden, you are in all of these meets, with all the same guys, and you are in it at the end in it several times. Last year, I was getting seconds and thirds and the occasional win, and this year, I was able to pull a victory every time somehow. It's not something you ever expect to carry at the World Championships with you, or past it," he elaborated.
Kendricks noted that it was really remarkable to hear the American national anthem ("The Star-Spangled Banner") that was played in his honor at the London World Championships podium, for winning the gold medal. "I like the spirit of the competition. Being on top of that podium, and saying 'that national anthem is for me' was special. I'm not the kind of guy that takes many things for myself, but I took that moment for myself for sure," he said. "It was raining, which was really cool. It was really kind of epic in my mind."
This summer, with his personal best of 6.00 meters, Kendricks joined an elite group of pole vaulters in the six meter club; moreover, this year, Kendricks won his seventh consecutive national championship in the United States for pole vault, four of which were for outdoor track and field, and three for indoor track and field. "That is a cool place to be, the leader of our national team in the pole vault," he said, graciously.
Kendricks shared that tomorrow (August 27) he will be competing in Berlin. "The Diamond League is finished, but there are plenty of other meets still around. This is what you call a World Challenge competition," he explained. "All of the same guys from the Diamond League final will be in Berlin at the Olympic Stadium. It's an unofficial rematch. It's the last top tier jump of the year."
Looking back over the past five years, he admitted that he sees "a lot of journeys, a lot of broken poles, a lot of victories and defeats.
Digital transformation of track and field
On the impact of technology on track and field, he said, "There are good adjustments and there are bad adjustments, when it comes to changing things in the technical aspect of a very archaic sport. Sometimes, technology boosted it when it doesn't really need to be. Most of the time, it doesn't really work if it is bad conditions, and it slows down the pace of the competition. When you look at the video on the way that runners analyze their races, and the way the crowd can appreciate how incredible some of these speeds are, that's when technology is really cool."
When asked how Kendricks uses technology in his pole vault routine, he said, "I try to keep things as simple as I can. I certainly use a several video angle in order to tweak, and to really observe myself from every aspect I can. My mental jumping is far exceeding my physical jumping. I think I am a much smarter pole vaulter than I am a physically good one. It's the truth. I'm the slowest guy in runway to win the Diamond League to win, and at the same time, you look at some of the basic things that you use in training. The old technology comes back, since these things work."
To learn more about 2017 World Champion pole vaulter Sam Kendricks, follow him on Twitter.