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article imageMeet Sam Kendricks: The journey of a pole vault world champion Special

By Markos Papadatos     Dec 31, 2017 in Sports
Oxford - American pole vaulter and Mississippi native Sam Kendricks will go down in history as the best pole vaulter in the world in the year 2017. Digital Journal explains why.
At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Kendricks took home the bronze medal in pole vault, but in 2017, he returned stronger than ever, in full force!
Kendricks kicked off 2017 winning his third consecutive national indoor pole vault championship. "I'm just lucky I was able to go there and accomplish my goal, and that was 5.85 meters," he said.
Sam Kendricks
Sam Kendricks
Daniel Mitchell
On March 24, 2017, Kendricks made his outdoor track and field season debut with 5.81 meters, which at the time, was the second best outdoor performance in the world, right behind Mondo Duplantis' 5.90 meters.
Sam Kendricks
Sam Kendricks
Daniel Mitchell
On May 13, 2017, Kendricks won the IAAF Diamond League event in Shanghai, China, with 5.88 meters.
Sam Kendricks
Sam Kendricks
Daniel Mitchell
Fast forward a few weeks later, on May, 27, Kendricks won first place in the IAAF Diamond League in Eugene, Oregon, as part of the Prefontaine Classic, with 5.86 meters.
Sam Kendricks
Sam Kendricks
Daniel Mitchell
Particularly impressive about The Prefontaine Classic is that it is an annual meeting in memory of the late Steve Prefontaine, which is historically significant in American track and field. "The Pre-Classic meet sets a tone for what all American athletes who have big goals should strive for. The meeting's namesake knew what it meant to put everything on the line so it is cool to say I did the same," Kendricks said.
Sam Kendricks
Sam Kendricks
supplied by Sam Kendricks
On June 24, 2017, at the USATF Outdoor Championships, Kendricks set a new personal best in pole vault, after he cleared 6.00 meters, in his second attempt. This made him the world leader in the event, where he surpassed Mondo Duplantis' personal best of 5.90 meters.
In that moment, Kendricks became the fifth man in American track and field history, to surpass six meters. Doing so, he joined an elite group of athletes: Brad Walker (6.04 meters), Jeff Hartwig (6.03 meters), Tim Mack (6.01 meters) and Toby Stevenson (6.00 meters), and rightfully so.
Sam Kendricks
Sam Kendricks
Daniel Mitchell
On July 1, 2017, at the IAAF Diamond League in Paris, France, Kendricks continued to triumph. He won first place with 5.82 meters, where he left Frenchman and indoor world record holder Renaud Lavillenie in second place with 5.62 meters. 2015 World Champion Shawn Barber came in third place with 5.62 meters.
Sam Kendricks
Sam Kendricks
Daniel Mitchell
On July 6, 2017, he was equally successful at the IAAF Diamond League event in Lausanne, Switzerland. With his 5.93 meter clearance, not only did he win first place, but that he set a new meeting record in Lausanne.
Sam Kendricks
Sam Kendricks
supplied by Sam Kendricks
London World Championships
On August 8, 2017, was perhaps the biggest moment of Kendricks' life, thus far. The 2017 World Championships were held in London, and in one of the biggest arenas (the London Stadium), with millions of people watching worldwide, Kendricks delivered the performance of a lifetime. The "Hotty Toddy" showcased his tremendous prowess on pole vault, where he reigned supreme, claiming the gold medal for Team U.S.A. with 5.95 meters.
Regarding this milestone, Kendricks reflected, "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."
Kendricks continued, "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."
Sam Kendricks
Sam Kendricks
supplied by Sam Kendricks
A crowning and emotional moment was hearing "The Star-Spangled Banner" played at the London podium, for his gold medal win. "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," Kendricks said. "It was raining, which was really cool. It was really kind of epic in my mind."
Subsequent wins after London
Following his London World Championship win, Kendricks kicked into overdrive. On August 24, 2017, he won first place at the IAAF Diamond League in Zurich with a jump over 5.87 meters, which he secured on his first attempt, which was enough to guarantee him a win in that competition.
Three days later, on August 27, Kendricks won first place, with 5.86 meters, at the IAAF World Challenge, which took place at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin.
Sam Kendricks at the 2017 World Championships in London
Sam Kendricks at the 2017 World Championships in London
Daniel Mitchell
On September 6, Kendricks won first place in the Domspringen pole vault meeting in Aachen, Germany. Kendricks won the 13th annual Domspringen meeting after clearing 5.80 meters. 5,000 screaming fans were in attendance that witnessed this spectacle!
Honors won by Sam Kendricks in 2017
In addition to being named indoor and outdoor USATF champion, as well as World Champion in pole vault, Kendricks was named 2017 IAAF Diamond League Champion, and he was named "Male Athlete of the Year" by USA Track & Field, where he received the prestigious "Jesse Owens award."
Sam Kendricks
Sam Kendricks
supplied by Sam Kendricks
Kendricks was also nominated for IAAF 2017 "Male World Athlete of the Year" category, as one of the Top 10 finalists, for being undefeated in all 17 of his competitions this year.
Congratulations to Sam Kendricks for all his accomplishments this year, and all the awards and accolades that came his way, which were based on merit! He is the epitome of hard work, perseverance and determination; moreover, he serves as a tremendous role model for all aspiring athletes.
Sam Kendricks
Sam Kendricks
supplied by Sam Kendricks
To learn more about U.S. Olympic pole vaulter Sam Kendricks, check out his official website.
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