The Mixed Zone in LA Grand Prix was tremendous. While many athletes did not stop for interviews, many did, and Sam Kendricks and Mondo Duplantis were among the group.
Sam and Mondo entertained a couple thousand fans for at least an hour after the track races were over. Afterward, both spoke to RunBlogRun and the assembled media.
Sam Kendricks is the 2016 Olympic bronze and gold medalist in 2017 and 2019. In 2021 he tested positive for COVID as he arrived in Tokyo, and in 2022, he broke his leg. Now fully recovered, the always-smiling Kendricks spent some time with us after his thrilling pole vault duel with Mondo Duplantis.
Sam Kendricks is a pole vault warrior. He has a bag of tricks or tactics a dozen years long. Pole vaulters are the chess players of the sky, and they love to take chances, love to pole vault and enjoy their competitors while genuinely wanting to kick their butts in the pole vault pit.
The crowd totally loved it in LA. It reminded me of Bubka competing in San Jose way back in 1995 when 4000 fans hung out at the Bruce Jenner Classic two hours after the meet to see the great star compete.
Sam Kendricks and Mondo Duplantis, LA Grand Prix, May 27, 2023, photos by Wendy Shulik/Wendy City Video
What many fans and media do not appreciate, I believe, is the absolute gambling moves that Sam Kendricks does when he competes. His standards were an infinitesimal distance from the pads (80cm, Mondo told me). Mondo told me, admiringly, Sam Kendricks had just done something few others could accomplish, much less try.
Kendricks has missed two years of competing. But his lovely wife, new son, and training center in Oxford, Mississippi, have sustained him. We will see what he can do now.
We can not wait to see him compete this week at the USATF Champs, July 6-9, 2023, https://www.usatf.org/events/2023/2023-toyota-usatf-outdoor-championships/status-of-entries, Sam, at 5.91m clearance, is number 4 on the qualifying list!
Special thanks as always to Sam Kendricks, who loves his event, sport, family, and competitors. A good man, an exception man. I am quite glad he is back!