In what is probably the best chance for an Ole Miss athlete to medal in Rio, former Rebel Sam Kendricks competes the in the finals of the Olympic pole vault competition on Monday. Kendricks, who owns the second-highest jump in the world this year (5.93 meters, or about 19 feet, 5 inches), is favored by Sports Illustrated to bring home the bronze.
If you haven’t noticed, the “Jump Sam Jump” craze is sweeping Oxford, with damn near every school and store in Lafayette County hanging a banner in support of the home-grown Olympian. An Oxford native and a two-time NCAA champion at Ole Miss, Kendricks chose to prep for these games not at the Team USA camp in Houston, but on the Oxford Middle School track with his dad.
His home town will be able to tune in during a live, prime time broadcast on NBC. Here are the particulars, followed by a rundown of pole vaulting rules and the competition that Kendricks will face.
How to watch
Time: 6:30 p.m. CT
Live stream: NBCOlympics.com
The watch party in Oxford kicks off at Rafters at 6 p.m.
So what are the rules for Olympic pole vault?
Pretty simple: vaulters take turns jumping over the bar, which is raised after each round of attempts. Each vaulter gets three attempts per height, though you’ll occasionally see folks pass on a height and skip to the next one. If there’s a tie for first, they’ll tick through a tiebreaker checklist (fewest attempts on the final height, fewest failed attempts over the course of the competition) before settling things with a jump-off.
Who is Kendricks going up against?
The only man to jump higher than Kendricks in an outdoor competition this year is France’s Renaud Lavillenie, who cleared 5.96 meters at a European competition two months ago. He won gold at the London Games in 2012 with a jump of 5.97 meters and is expected to defend his title in Rio.
The only other vaulters to clear 5.90 meters in an outdoor competition this year are Canadian Shawn Barber (5.91) and Brazilian Thiago Braz (5.90), both of whom will compete in the finals on Monday night.
In order for Kendricks to have a shot at the gold, he’ll have to either 1) jump considerably higher than he ever has in a competition or 2) hope Lavillenie has an off night. That second option isn’t farfetched: the Frenchman blew his shot at claiming a fourth straight European championship when he failed to clear 5.75 meters in Amsterdam just over a month ago (he blamed the wind).