Zurich Diamond League: Kendricks Is Back.

By Sam Fariss

ZURICH – There was something in the air at the Diamond League meeting on Thursday evening as vaulters and jumpers seemed to easily set season bests, personal bests, and national records. The 30-year-old American Sam Kendricks seemed to revert to his World Championships form as he easily cleared 5.95 meters.

“He’s done it! Sam Kendricks is back!” the commentators exclaimed. “The former world champion has not been at this sort of height for quite a while.”

Facing up against the best of the best, Armand “Mondo” Duplantis, Kendricks did not have an easy task ahead of him. Duplantis was coming off of his gold medal finish at the Budapest World Athletics Championships just a few days prior.

Chris Nilsen, a fellow American, was seen rubbing (what appeared to be) icy hot on his compatriot’s side leading up to Kendricks’ first attempt at 6.00 meters.

Sam Kendricks and Mondo Duplantis, LA Grand Prix, May 27, 2023, photos by Wendy Shulik/Wendy City Video

While Kendricks was not able to clear the bar in his three attempts, it looked like he was back to his old self: having fun with the sport and leaning into the support from those around him. Following his 5.95 clearance, the pole vaulter ran onto the track and celebrated with the fans. His final attempt was the best for his 2023 season.

Duplantis went on to take another stab at his current world record of 6.22 meters. Easily clearing 6.00 meters and passing on 6.05 meters, the young Swede asked officials to raise the bar to 6.23 in order to take his attempts.

He was unable to clear the bar at 6.23 meters but still took home the first-place finish to continue his undefeated streak for the season.

Kendricks, who has appeared to be slightly off-kilter since dropping out from the Tokyo Olympics due to a positive COVID test, took every success as a victory throughout the competition.

He has battled injuries throughout 2023 and was only able to finish in 4th place at the USATF Championships. Kendricks was joined on the podium by young American KC Lightfoot, who finished in third.

Beyond the pole vault field, many other athletes seemed to find unprecedented success in Zurich.

Hamish Kerr, a New Zealand high jumper, earned a personal best and 2nd place finish with his clearance of 2.33 meters. Greece’s Miltiadis Tentoglou jumped an impressive 8.20 meters to finish first in the men’s long jump competition.