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World champion Sam Kendricks talks camaraderie in the pole vault (Includes interview)

This weekend, Kendricks will be competing at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships that are held at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa. “You realize that this is the first place that you really stepped on the big stage, and you need to keep proving yourself every year and everybody knows that,” he said. “It is really fun to go back and feel those old feelings.”

Thus far, Kendricks is in the lead in the rankings in the 2019 IAAF Diamond League in the men’s pole vault. He won the Diamond League competitions in Doha, Stockholm, and Oslo. “I’ve had some momentum and I was lucky enough that I’ve had some solid performances throughout the year that kept me in the top of the rankings, but my goodness, you have to earn that first place spot and every time you win,” he said.

Sam Kendricks
Sam Kendricks
Photo Courtesy of Daniel Mitchell

He complimented his fellow pole vaulters for being “hard-working and talented guys.” He praised Polish pole vaulter Piotr Lisek for being “absolutely on fire.” “I am really encouraged by him because I know that he is getting better this whole season, and I hope that holds true for me as well,” he said. “I hope to get even stronger for our championships, even beyond our nationals.”

“When Piotr [Lisek] jumped 6.02 meters in Monaco, we were all thrilled when something cool happens to somebody like that. Piotr was jumping immaculately that night,” he said. “It happened to me at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in 2017 when I jumped six meters, it happened to Mondo Duplantis last summer in Berlin with 6.05 meters and it happened to Thiago Braz at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro with 6.03 meters. Everybody has their day.”

“It is always a liberating day when you jump a six-meter bar,” Kendricks admitted. “That means that you are doing everything right that you should be doing.”

The 26-year-old pole vaulter acknowledged that the camaraderie in the sport of pole vault is true and genuine. “I can assure you it’s not an act, these guys are my buddies. We walk a similar road and we face similar hardships. We have a great friendship in the male pole vault world,” he said.

“The truth of the sport is that we are all aiming to clear the same bar. The test is between me and the obstacle, not me and my fellow man,” he said. “The competition adds more to it, but it’s not a trial between the man, it’s a trial between the obstacle.”

Kendricks is really looking forward to the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar, which will kick off on Saturday, September 28, and wrap up on Sunday, October 6. “I am excited that our first Diamond League meeting this year was in Doha since when we go back we won’t be so wide-eyed when we get to Khalifa Stadium,” he said.

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Sam Kendricks at the 2017 World Championships in London
Sam Kendricks at the 2017 World Championships in London
Daniel Mitchell

At the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Kendricks won the bronze medal for Team USA. On the following year, 2017, Kendricks swept all 17 pole vault competitions that he competed in with no losses, and was honored as the “World Champion” in the sport. He will be trying to defend that title later this fall at the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

A native of Oxford, Mississippi, Kendricks defined the word success as “Getting to go home and rest well and easy knowing that I did all the things that I was supposed to do on the road and having a great time doing it.” “This is a very special life and a very special path that I get to walk in that high level of athletics. I am very blessed and thankful that I am able to do that,” he said.

For his fans, supporters, and anybody that follows pole vault, Kendricks remarked, “We are all trying to do two things: first, accomplish our own goals, and those are very diverse, and second, I’m trying to build my house in Mississippi. That’s one of my goals that I have been working on for a long time, and we are working on it right now.”

“We are all trying to jump for our country as well. “Even we didn’t get anything out of the sport, we would still go and jump for that honor. We are competitors and that’s what we love to do. Anybody who you can cheer for and be rooting for boosts the whole competition,” he said.

To learn more about world-class pole vaulter Sam Kendricks, check out the official Team Kendricks website.

Scott Kendricks  Sam Kendricks and Bruce Caldwell
Scott Kendricks, Sam Kendricks and Bruce Caldwell
Photo Courtesy of Bruce Caldwell
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Read More: In March of 2019, Digital Journal chatted with Scott Kendricks, Olympic and world champion pole vault coach, who is also Sam’s father and an integral part of Team Kendricks.

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