Sam Kendricks enjoyed a flawless 2017 season winning the world title, Diamond League trophy and also gained admission to the six-metre club. Here the US pole vaulter talks about his background in the sport and why he has a zeal for vaulting.
“I tell two stories about now I got into vaulting; one is the true one and the other is the funny one and the joke is they are one and the same. In the US the Title IX law states that for every male sport there must be an equivalent opportunity for the girl to compete. My father (Scott) was a high school track coach and the school was the first in Mississippi to add a girls’ pole vault. What was cool about this was it allowed me, a scrawny little soccer player who would never have been allowed me to join the guys programme to at least jump with the girls to train. At that time the girls used to beat my brains out – I never did beat those girls – but what it did do was it gave me the opportunity to try the event.
“Competing in pole vault gave me a lot of quiet pride. I could never run the hurdles or the 4x400m but when I went to an event and vaulted people would say,“look at that little guy jump”, and it made me feel good. I was also doing a cool event which gave me a genuine spot on my father’s track team. It allowed me to progress as a young athlete.
“I loved vaulting because it was so frustrating and such a challenge. It made me stronger and I met some of my best friends through the sport. I loved training and preparing to jump higher. I taught myself never to say no when Coach K (Scott Kendricks) said we are ready to jump.
“My father allowed me to love the event because he always had total faith in me. I was by no means a sterling athlete. I’m not a great physical specimen but my father’s faith gave me the time and the benefit of his expertise to do with it what I will.
“The vault allows me to give everything that God gave me. No matter what my physical limitations I can figure a way around this. There is no-one racing me down the runway saying I need to be faster than you or no-one in the weight room saying I have to be stronger than you. I just need to be able to jump higher than you. This allows guys like me – without the genetic gifts of others - to find a way to the top and that’s why I love this event. It allows me to recruit everything I have and do something beautiful.”
Steve Landells for the IAAF