We’re in the middle of another exciting Olympics, and there are still plenty of fun events that haven’t even started yet! Yesterday saw the track and field events begin, and today we’ll be seeing plenty more of the various events track and field encompasses.
One of the more interesting track and field events this year is pole vaulting. The qualifying round of men’s pole vault is one of several track and field events that will be streaming starting at 7:00 pm EST tonight. It can be live streamed for anyone with NBC Sports here.
The United States is sending out Sam Kendricks to represent them in the men’s pole vault competition. It’s an incredible honor for Kendricks, who turns 24 next month. Kendricks is a varied, accomplished track and field star with phenomenal pole vaulting success in his young career. With the way he has performed so far, he is absolutely someone to watch out for in tonight’s qualifying round.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. He Qualified For His First Olympics During a Fourth of July Event
Kendricks has been working incredibly hard to make it here, and it all came together perfectly on July 4th, at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials. These determined who would be headed to the Olympics for a number of events, including pole vault. To say Kendricks performed well at these trials is an understatement. He didn’t just win the men’s pole vault, he won by clearing 19 feet and 4.75 inches, or 5.91 meters. That is a record best for pole vaulting at the U.S. Track and Field Trials.
Kendricks celebrated in as patriotic a way as any athlete could to making the Olympics – he ran and waved his American flag around. He couldn’t be more excited to represent the US, saying “I’m lucky and I’m very thankful for the grace to befall on me that I get to do this and compete for my country.”
2. He Has Done As Well As 2nd Place While Representing the US in Athletic Competitions
Kendricks trained well in advance for the U.S. Track and Field Team Trials. Some of his competitions have included ones with IAAF. In August of 2015, Kendricks participated in the 15th IAAF World Championships in Beijing. After making it past the qualifying round, he advanced to the finals, ultimately finishing tied for 9th place. He cleared 5.65 meters
In 2016, Kendricks participated in the IAAF World Indoor Championships, which took place in Portland, Oregon this past March. This time Kendricks improved tremendously, clearing 5.80 meters and finishing second.
3. He is a Second Lieutenant in the Army
Kendricks isn’t just a pole vaulter year round. Currently, Kendricks is a second lieutenant and Army reservist. His start at the army was in college, when he joined ROTC in order to help with his school tuition.
Ultimately, Kendricks fell in love with both pole vaulting and the Army, staying at ROTC all four years of college and graduating as a second lieutenant. Currently, he is in the Army reserve in Millington, Tennessee, with the 655th Transportation Company. He’ll be in Virginia in October, to attend a Basic Leadership course.
4. He Was an NCAA Champion While Attending the University of Mississippi
It was at Ole Miss where Kendricks first showed that he could be a star at pole vaulting. In 2012, he became the first All-American pole vaulter for Ole Miss since 1985, ultimately finishing the NCAA Championships tied for 10th. In 2013, he improved dramatically, becoming the NCAA champion in pole vaulting and a gold medalist at the World University Games.
2013 would be a hard year for Kendricks to top. He topped it. He was undefeated outdoors all season, winning the NCAA Championships again, as well being the USA and SEC champion of pole vault. This historic feat made him the first player ever from the University of Mississippi to win the USA title for pole vaulting.
5. His Father Was a Cross Country Athlete and His Mother Works at Ole Miss
It’s no wonder Ole Miss was Kendricks’ pick of choice; it’s in his blood. His father, Scott, attended Ole Miss as well, but was a middle-distance runner as opposed to a pole vaulter. He ended up coaching Oxford High School, and when Sam followed in his footsteps and attended Ole Miss, he was a volunteer coach during Sam’s sophomore year.
His mother, Marni, works at Ole Miss, as the assistant dean at the School of Engineering. Marni has waxed poetic about Sam’s college days, and how she could go visit her son’s practice while her husband coached: “They would text me and say, ‘He’s having a really good practice. Do you want to come?’… I’d drop everything and run over to the track. I loved that.” Suffice to say, those proud parents are prouder than ever.