Ole Miss Alum Kendricks Wins World Pole Vault Title
Sam Kendricks (photo by Eric Seals/USA Today Sports)
Aug. 8, 2017

IAAF World Championships Central | Live Results | TV Coverage 

LONDON – The small-town boy who loves to ride horses and is a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves, an unlikely star athlete, is now a World Champion.

Ole Miss alum and Oxford, Mississippi, native Sam Kendricks won his first world pole vault title Tuesday at the IAAF World Championships in an exciting fashion befitting his gregarious, uber-positive personality.

Kendricks, who won bronze at last year’s Rio Olympics and also has a world indoor silver medal to his credit, produced a clean sheet of jumps all the way through 5.89m/19-3.75. At that point, he was one of three men left who would battle for which color medal to claim. Kendricks, Poland’s Piotr Lisek and France’s Renaud Lavillenie (the world record holder) all missed their first two attempts at 5.95m/19-6.25 before Kendricks soared to a clearance. The other two missed their final attempts to give the Oxford native and Team USA the win.

“My goodness, I have never been in a competition like [today],” Kendricks said after his victory. “The crowd gave everything in their hearts to support me. After that final jump, I went to give my mother and father a hug. They mean the world to me. My...girlfriend was there as well so it was a great moment. 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. I've enjoyed 10 straight victories this year, it is a blessing to get another today. I compete against these guys all the time so we are no strangers to one another. It was another fantastic competition today and I had to jump high to take the gold.”

A two-time NCAA champion at Ole Miss in 2013 and 2014, Kendricks becomes the second Rebel to win a gold medal at a senior global championship, joining seven-time women’s long jump champion Brittney Reese.

Kendricks is the world leader in the pole vault this year with his personal-best leap over 6.00m/19-8.25 to claim gold at the U.S. Championships in June. He still lives and trains in his hometown, splitting time between the Oxford Middle School and Ole Miss facilities.

Rising Ole Miss senior Raven Saunders also competed Tuesday, earning an automatic qualifying spot into Wednesday’s 12-woman semifinal with her second-attempt throw of 18.63m/61-1.5. It’s her second straight global competition to make it this far, as she finished fifth at the Rio Olympics last year in her first senior meet on the world’s biggest stage.

“I’m really just going for it all,” Saunders said about advancing. “I’m still a young shot putter out here, one of the youngest, and I’m in medal contention. I’m looking forward to going out there and giving it my best and bringing home a medal for Team USA.”

Two more Ole Miss alums and former Olympians will compete Wednesday. Reese will jump in the qualifying for long jump, while Isiah Young will run in the semifinals of the 200 meters.

For more information on Ole Miss Track & Field, follow the Rebels on Twitter (@OleMissTrack), Facebook and Instagram.






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