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USATF Fast Track: Sam Kendricks


As 2016 Olympic track & field competition kicks off on Friday, USATF takes a moment for quick chats with team members.

Today’s feature: Sam Kendricks

Sam Kendricks of Oxford, Mississippi won the Olympic Trials in men's pole vault and enters the Olympic Games as a solid contender for a medal. He is a two-time NCAA outdoor champion (2013, 2014) and the reigning US Indoor National Champion. Sam is also a second lieutenant in the 655th Transportation Company of the Army Reserves.

Q: Name something Brazilian:

A: Steakhouse.

Q: Does your practice or training change leading up to the Games?

A: I sleep a lot more.

Q: What does wearing the USA across your chest mean to you?

A: It's heavy. I get to represent the USA as a military man, as an officer, and as part of the Olympic team. I feel like I wear it under my skin just as much as I wear it on top. It's written on my heart just as much. While I'm here I get the exceptional chance for everyone to recognize that it is written on my chest and I do bear it with a heavy amount of pride.

Q: If you could compete in another Olympic sport, what would it be?

A: Equestrian, dressage. I love horses and I know that chance would be very far away but, the event has a certain grace to it. It's a marrying of human athletes with animal athletes that get just as much credit and I think it's a beautiful event.

Q: Who is your favorite Olympian?

A: I like Ashton Eaton. He's a very personable guy. He can connect with every event group in such a way that no other athlete could. He's an every man's man when it comes to the Olympic Games. Very great guy, very humble guy. I strive to be like him.

Q: Have you done any sightseeing?

A: I haven't done any sightseeing yet! Tonight I'll go to the USA House to meet my girlfriend but, I'm here to work first and foremost. My job is to pole vault high and after that if I have any time while I’m still in the country I’ll go see something beautiful.

Q: What’s in your backpack:

A: My practice bag is full of seven particular poles that I’ve come together and built over the last ten years to give me my best shot to compete, a new pair of spikes every week and a bag of chalk that has gone all over the world with me. I also try to keep Coach K in my bag - that’s my dad [Scott Kendricks] - keep whatever he would say tucked away in my bag so I can always pull it out whenever I need to hear it.

Q: Is your family coming to Rio?

A: My girlfriend and her family, and my father, who’s also my personal coach. Everyone else in my family came to the trials.

Q: What do you expect when you walk into the stadium to compete for the first time?

A: I’m expecting to find the tape measure and metric so I need to go convert my marks so I can be more exact on the runway. Otherwise, it’s just the same as any other track meet with the same guys.

Q: What is the most memorable thing you’ve experienced so far in Rio?

A: The most memorable thing is vaulting in training with all of the team jumpers under the lights at Escola Naval.

Q: What has been the biggest surprise of your 2016 Olympic experience?

A: The biggest surprise was learning a little samba by the cafe in Copacabana from the girl who made my cappuccino!

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