Three days before the U.S. celebrates Independence Day, the Army reservist and Olympic pole vaulter who stopped midway through a run last summer in Rio upon hearing his national anthem won the event at a Diamond League meet in Paris.
Sam Kendricks, who won bronze at Olympic Games Rio 2016, cleared 5.77 meters on his last attempt to beat Renaud Lavillenie on Saturday. It was his first competition since he topped 6.00 meters, a personal best, and won the national title at the at the USATF Outdoor Championships a week earlier.
It was Kendricks' third Diamond League victory of the year. Going into the meet, he led Lavillenie in points, 24-21.
Kendricks, a second lieutenant in the Army Reserve, was one of 18 U.S. military members competing in Rio last summer and the first to medal in addition to being the first American to medal in pole vault in 12 years.
The U.S. also went 1-2 in the triple jump, with Olympic champion Christian Taylor winning with a best of 17.29 meters on his second attempt to edge Will Claye’s 17.18. Taylor led in the qualification standings going into the meet with 24 points.
Courtney Okolo finished second in the women’s 400-meter with a time of 51.19. Novlene Williams-Mills, of Jamaica, won the event in 51.03.