Olympic bronze medallist takes victory for America on fifth night of IAAF World Champs in London

Outside athletics, Sam Kendricks is a lieutenant in the US Army Reserve and commands a platoon of 40 soldiers. On Tuesday night in the London Stadium he executed his pole vault game plan with military precision to take gold.

Kendricks had won a world title in the past – the World University Games crown in 2013 – but this was his first title at the IAAF World Championships. Previously he has won five US titles, plus world indoor silver and Olympic bronze last year, but here he beat Piotr Lisek of Poland and Renaud Lavillenie of France as he soared over 5.95m under gloomy skies on a cool night in the British capital.

Lisek, the European indoor champion, cleared 5.89m on his first attempt to take silver on countback from world record-holder Lavillenie, who managed it on his second try.

Behind, Changrui Liu was fourth with a Chinese record of 5.82m followed by Pawel Wojciechowski of Poland, who cleared 5.75m.

“My goodness, I have never been in a competition like it,” said Kendricks. “The crowd gave everything in their hearts to support me.

“After that final jump, I went to give my mother and father a hug. They mean the world to me. My coach and girlfriend were there as well so it was a great moment.

“It is all part of a mission for me. I make a goal and chop it down to make it attainable. I’ve finally got that world title and I could not be happier.

“I’ve enjoyed 10 straight victories this year, it is a blessing to get another today. I compete against these guys all the time so we are no strangers to one another. It was another fantastic competition today and I had to jump high to take the gold.”

Lavillenie won gold in London five years ago and he took his fifth minor medal at the IAAF World Championships here in the same city this week. “I am just proud to always win a medal, even if it is not gold,” he said.

Reigning champion Shawn Barber of Canada, meanwhile, was eighth with 5.65m, just ahead of 17-year-old Swedish prodigy Armand Duplantis in ninth, while 2013 world champion Raphael Holzdeppe failed to clear a height in the final.

» Check out our dedicated online section here for more of the London 2017 latest and see the August 17 edition of AW magazine for full coverage