The 3 Amigos competed on Sunday, 3 May and it was, fun! This is how Stuart Weir reflected on this fine event….
Reflecting on pole vault
The Ultimate Garden Clash on Sunday reminded us what we have been missing! Little did I realize when watching Mondo defeat Sam Kendricks and break the World Indoor record in Glasgow in February, followed by a rematch in France the next week, that would be the last live action I would watch perhaps for a year.
I am always fascinated by the way the fiercely competitive vaulters try to kick butt but in such a respectful manner. Mondo told me: “Pole vaulting is like your brotherhood”. Sam Kendricks said of Mondo: “He respects me as a competitor and he knows that I respect him as a competitor.”
The two recognize that they bring out the best in each other. Remember that epic battle in the 2019 World Championship when they both reached 5.97 and Kendricks won on least failures. Kendricks told me: “Mondo and I have had a competitive relationship for a while now and have competed against each other many times. And we always seem to jump well together. My best jumps seem to come when I’m jumping against Mondo. We aren’t battling each other, we’re all just chasing the bars”. He did add: “But all these 20 year old vaulters make me look old!”
Mondo also relishes the competition and the friendship: “Sam and I are out there every competition busting our butt trying to beat each other but at the end of the day we’ve got to have fun with it. We don’t want to lose. We want to beat the heck out of each other but there are things you can’t control. I can’t control how Sam jumps. I can just control myself. But there is no reason to let the fact that we are competitors get in the way of seeing someone as a cool guy I would like to hang out with”.
— RunBlogRun (@RunBlogRun) May 3, 2020
Kendricks saw winning the world titles (2017 and 2019) as the culmination of a process: “To be a world champion you have to be a champion at many other levels. I was champion of my state, of my university, of America and many other championships besides, before I was truly the world champion. The world title and the Olympic championship go hand in hand. In our sport they are equally respectable in my mind. Even more so for a world champion because it is held twice as often [World Championships twice as often as the Olympics]. More athletes are in their prime competing for it. That is truly the peak of track and field. It is our championship”.
Sam is World Champion but Mondo has the World Record, 6.18m achieved in Glasgow in February 2020. Mondo said after breaking the record: “It just feels so good. I felt like I was over it and once I was going over I knew I had it. You can’t tell how far away you are from the bar but it felt like a good jump from the get go. I tried a stiffer pole and it worked out. It’s the best little split second. Everything builds up to that little split second and the freefall was magical”.
“It’s probably something I’ll never get to experience again. I don’t know that it’s ever been done before where a man & woman were making WR attempts at the same time…” @sandicheekspv tells @stuartweir about going for a pole vault WR at the same time as @mondohoss600 in LiÃ©vin. pic.twitter.com/oxGevW9fXJ
— AW (@AthleticsWeekly) February 20, 2020
The next week in Lievin, France we had Sandi Morris and Mondo simultaneous – well alternating – in world record attempts, ultimately both failing. As Mondo said: “It’s unfair to think I’ll break it [the world Record] every time I compete. I don’t think about it too much. You don’t need to break a record to win every comp. I want to win and that’s always the goal but firstly you’ve got to win and if I have the energy left then I’ll crank it up a bit”.
He loved the opportunity to have a men’s and women’s competition at the same time with alternating jumps: “Looking to my right Sandi is attempting a world record what I’m going for my world record. That was really cool. And such a great atmosphere over here. The crowd was on its feet and yelling. I think it was really cool that us pole-vaulters got to show why our event is so special”.
Renaud Lavillenie, the third man at the weekend, did not make the final at Doha 2019 – ending a sequence medals at 5 consecutive World Championships. Olympic champion in 2012 and silver-medallist in 2016, he has struggled with injuries of late. He is full of admiration for his competitors: “In the past I used to be very consistent and none of them [other vaulters] were as consistent as me and sometimes winning was not so hard. But now they have improved to a level which gives good opposition and is very good for the competition. So now at a Diamond League 5.80 will definitely not be enough to win. Now you have to think 5.90 or higher. There have been some good competitions which I think is good for the sport. Currently we have four or five guys capable of jumping 5.90 or 6 metres. That is very good for the pole vault”.
Last Sunday showed us what we have been missing and left us wondering when we will next see elite world-class action.