Ken­dricks com­pletes per­fec­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

LON­DON — Amer­i­can Sam Ken­dricks capped his un­beaten sea­son by win­ning the pole vault at the World Ath­let­ics Cham­pi­onships on Tues­day as the ti­tle once again eluded world-record holder and for­mer Olympic cham­pion Re­naud Lav­il­le­nie of France.

Ken­dricks, an of­fi­cer in the US Army re­serve, cleared 5.95 me­ters while Poland’s Piotr Lisek took the silver and Lav­il­le­nie had to be con­tent with a fourth world bronze de­spite pro­duc­ing his best leap of the sea­son.

Lisek, who tied for the bronze medal in Bei­jing two years ago, and Lav­il­le­nie, who won silver in 2013, both cleared 5.89 but the Pole took silver on count­back.

Olympic cham­pion Fabio Braz pulled out last month due to form and fit­ness prob­lems.

Ken­dricks, un­beaten in 2017 af­ter 10 com­pe­ti­tions out­doors and one in­doors, was again in per­fect form as he moved through the first five heights with­out fail­ure.

The 24-year-old, who barely picked up his pole for five months dur­ing the au­tumn and win­ter while on ac­tive military duty, failed his first two at­tempts at 5.95 be­fore clear­ing the third to a huge roar from the crowd.

“It is all part of a mis­sion for me. I make a goal and chop it down to make it at­tain­able. I’ve fi­nally got that world ti­tle and I could not be hap­pier,” Ken­dricks said.

“It was an­other fan­tas­tic com­pe­ti­tion to­day and I had to jump high to take the gold.”

Ken­dricks doesn’t use as long of a pole, which means he must use military pre­ci­sion to eke the most out of his game.

“I was the best jumper I can be on a shorter pole than ev­ery­one else. Tonight, it handed me my vic­tory,” he said.

Asked why he uses such a short pole, he shrugged: “Takes me less time to get to the bar — less time to make er­rors.”

A funny thing hap­pened on his vic­tory lap — he ran too fast and got a stitch in his side. He had noth­ing left to prove, but clearly prides him­self in giv­ing max­i­mum ef­fort at any time he’s out there.

Ken­dricks’ unit back in the US has been load­ing ships in South Carolina. He was given time off so he could com­pete.

“I’m glad I have a medal to show them,” said Ken­dricks, who trains in Mis­sis­sippi and is coached by his fa­ther.

“Be­ing a re­serve of­fi­cer means be­ing on call when one of your sol­diers needs you, and stay­ing up to date with my per­sonal fit­ness and to be ready when my unit calls me.”

Af­ter his lap was com­plete, Ken­dricks care­fully folded an Amer­i­can flag and draped it over his shoul­der, cov­er­ing up the smaller flag on his jacket.

“Some­times, the big­ger flag is nicer,” he laughed.

Ken­dricks gave his flag from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics to his twin brother. This one is go­ing to his girl­friend.

It was metic­u­lously earned, too. He used a marker to jot down on his arm the take­off points he wanted to hit dur­ing his run up to the pit. It worked, and he joins Brad Walker (Osaka, 2007) as the only Amer­i­can men to win a world pole vault ti­tle.

“We of­ten con­sider our­selves the mas­ters of the 1 per­cent,” Ken­dricks said.

“How can an ath­lete like me, who’s not nec­es­sar­ily at the top of the world in anything, num­bers-wise, how can I be at the top of the world in pole vault?

“I can get a lit­tle bit bet­ter in ev­ery­thing, be a lit­tle more ex­act than I was the day be­fore.”

Lisek had two fail­ures at 5.65 and an­other at 5.82 be­fore de­cid­ing to move to 5.89 which he cleared at the first at­tempt but the next height proved a bridge too far.

Lav­il­le­nie, un­able to start train­ing un­til May be­cause of a foot in­jury, has been short of con­fi­dence and form all sea­son and has failed to reg­is­ter a win in five ap­pear­ances on the Di­a­mond League cir­cuit.

He had one fail­ure and skipped two rounds be­fore reach­ing 5.95m where he was ag­o­niz­ingly close on his sec­ond at­tempt, clear­ing the bar but nudg­ing it on the way down.

Lav­il­le­nie then opted to move to 6.01 where his chal­lenge ended.

De­fend­ing cham­pion Shawn Bar­ber of Canada strug­gled all evening and never looked in con­tention.

It is all part of a mis­sion for me. I make a goal and chop it down to make it at­tain­able.” Sam Ken­dricks, af­ter win­ning the pole vault ti­tle

KAI PFAFFENBACH / REUTERS

Sam Ken­dricks of the US com­petes on his way to win­ning the pole vault at the World Ath­let­ics Cham­pi­onships at Lon­don Sta­dium on Tues­day.

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