DOHA (Reuters) - Sam Kendricks of the United States clinched his second consecutive world title on Tuesday after a duel with European champion Armand Duplantis that electrified the usually muted crowd at Khalifa International Stadium.
Kendricks stayed alive by clearing 5.87 and 5.97 metres in his third and final attempts but it was his first-time clearance at 5.92 that put him above Duplantis and earned him gold when neither man could clear 6.02.
Kendricks, who came into the championships with a season’s best of 6.06, became the first pole vaulter to secure repeat wins at the worlds since Sergey Bubka clinched his sixth consecutive title in 1997.
Sweden’s Duplantis knocked down the bar on this first attempt to clear 5.87 but comfortably cleared the height on his second attempt, pounding his fist on his chest as he stood up from the pit.
The 19-year-old encountered trouble at 5.92, failing to clear on his first two attempts. He remained in contention by lifting himself over the bar on his third try, prompting cheers from a pack of Swedish fans in the crowd.
“He’s not just 19. He’s 19 with 10 years of pole vault experience,” Kendricks, 27, said of his Swedish rival. “It’s going to be harder every time, for him and for me, to go for that victory.”
Piotr Lisek of Poland, twice a world championship medallist before, settled for bronze after failing to get over the bar at 5.97.
In a display of camaraderie, all three medallists backflipped simultaneously in celebration, drawing cheers and claps from the crowd.
Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; editing by Clare Fallon and Toby Davis