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World Champ Kendricks Goes Toe-To-Toe With World Record Holder Duplantis In Diamond League Pole Vault Exhibition

By Chrös McDougall | Sept. 02, 2020, 3:26 p.m. (ET)

Sam Kendricks competes in the Men's Pole Vault final at the 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 on Oct. 01, 2019 in Doha, Qatar.


When Sam Kendricks and Armand “Mondo” Duplantis first met in this outdoor track season, the pole vault stars were competing separately and hundreds of miles apart in May’s Ultimate Garden Clash, a virtual event during the height of COVID-19 lockdowns.

Their latest showdown Wednesday was only somewhat more traditional, as two-time defending world champ Kendricks of the U.S. and indoor world record holder Duplantis of Sweden outlasted an all-star field and then went toe-to-toe for an additional seven rounds at the Diamond League pole-vault-only exhibition event in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Competing in front of a small crowd and in front of the scenic Place de l’Europe in the heart of the Swiss city, the two rivals dropped the rest of the field at 5.72 meters and then kept going until Duplantis finally won with a height of 6.07 meters. Kendricks was second at 6.02.

Both easily set new season-best heights, while Duplantis also eclipsed Kendricks for the second best height ever. Kendricks had cleared 6.06 meters at last year’s U.S. championships. The world record, set by Ukraine’s Sergey Bubka in 1994, is 6.14 meters.

Thiago Braz of Brazil, the 2016 Olympic gold medalist, was third in Lausanne at 5.72 meters. Two other Americans took part, with Cole Walsh finishing fifth and Christopher Nilsen seventh, both having cleared 5.62 meters.

The 27-year-old Kendricks and Duplantis, 20, have developed a friendly rivalry over recent months, though the Swede has had the upper hand of late, having won 12 straight competitions, including six against Kendricks.

Kendricks, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, has been on the upswing, however, with Wednesday being his first time this outdoor season to go over the 6-meter mark.

The truncated Diamond League season continues exhibition event Friday in Brussels, with the next full competition coming Sept. 17 in Rome and Naples.

Chrös McDougall

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

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