You’ve seen the photo. Now here’s the story behind the picture from the man himself.
Sam Kendricks captured a national title in the men’s pole vault at the 2013 Outdoor Track & Field Championships this past Wednesday. His title was the 13th individual national championship in program, and he earned All-America distinction.
The sophomore from Oxford, Miss., also combined with senior sprinter Isiah Young for 24 points to finish eighth in the team standings, the best in school history.
The photo above, courtesy of Josh McCoy, came on his winning pole vault at a height of 18-8.25 feet.
“The funny thing about that moment — that picture — is that I went through about five different emotions as I came dwon,” Kendricks said. “Josh McCoy snapped that one picture where I was like this, but I was only like that for an instant. And so I was celebrating, and then I was relieved, and then I hit the mat, and it was over.”
“With all my friends there and all the coaches, I really still don’t know how to feel. I’m excited. I feel proud to be a Rebel. I feel accomplished that I have done this. But at the same time, who can be fully satisfied with something like this. I went there and did what I knew I could do. I just happened to come out victorious in the competition. And right now, I’m looking toward the future.”
Kendricks said he never envisioned when he first started vaulting that all this was even a possibility, even to come to Ole Miss, even to jump higher than 14 feet. His grandfather, also Sam, has a flag pole in his front yard, and he moved it up from height to height while Sam jumped in high school, eventually to his highest jump, 17 feet. Sam said the flag pole didn’t go any higher, and his grandfather didn’t want to buy a new one. When he arrived home yesterday, he said he saw something that reminded him of the flag pole.
“I see a big banner that says, ‘Congratulations, Sam,’ and I see all my family standing in the front yard, but I also see something along the column next to the front door, and it’s a tape measure,” Kendricks said.
“And it goes up and up and up and up, over the balcony, over the second story, and onto our roof, and I realized my mom had climbed on the outside of the balcony and taped it at 18-8.25 feet, way above the second story of our roof.”
The immediate future Kendricks talked about is the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which will be held June 20-23 in Des Moines, Iowa, where the top qualifiers will advance to the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, Russia, Aug. 10-18. There’s also the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which Kendricks said he also thinks about. He is currently ranked second among Americans and seventh in the world this year with a mark of of 19-0.75 feet.
“I’ve never done anything on that scale before,” he said of representing his country. “Coming to college has been new experience after new experience. And just the possibility that I might be able to put USA on my chest is fulfilling.”
“I think every guy need to allow himself those dreams,” he said of Rio 2016. “And I hope that in the future I can still be a competitive vaulter, be healthy and be able to represent my country the best I can. The Olympic dream is always out there for a lot of guys, and for me, and I would be really happy if that came to fruition.”