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US soldier wins bronze in men's pole vaulting

U.S. Army Reserve 2nd Lt. Sam Kendricks trains for the Rio 2016 Olympics at his former high school in Oxford, Mississippi on July 27, 2016.

FRANKLIN CHILDRESS/U.S. ARMY RESERVE

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 16, 2016

U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Sam Kendricks won the bronze medal in men’s pole vaulting Monday night.

The 23-year-old cleared a height of 19 feet, 2.3 inches. To represent Team USA, he cleared 19 feet, 4.75 inches during the trials in Eugene, Oregon.

Monday night, however, the crowd in Rio was with Brazilian pole vaulter Thiago Braz de Silva who won the gold medal and set an Olympic record. It was the host country’s second gold medal and first in track and field.

He upset the world-record holder and defending champion Renauld Lavillenie of France, who won silver.

"I thought I was in a movie. ... My first urge was to go run and hug Thiago so much," Kendricks told The Associated Press. "But I knew that it was his moment and he needed to be on camera and experience it for himself."

Kendricks has competed in track and field since high school. He loved running relays, but pole vaulting was a strength, according to an Army news release. He competed for the University of Mississippi, where he also joined the Army ROTC. He graduated last year as a second lieutenant.

After the Olympics, he is scheduled to attend the basic officer leadership course at Fort Lee in Virginia. He is currently in the Army Reserve with the 655th Transportation Company in Millington, Tennessee.

He also plans to continue with full-time pole vault training, according to an Army news release.

news@stripes.com

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