29.07.2021 Europe

Olympics Day 6: American pole vault medal hope Kendricks out with coronavirus

By Paul Myers - RFI
LISTEN JUL 29, 2021

Reigning world champion pole vaulter Sam Kendricks on Thursday became the most high-profile athlete to be forced out of the Olympics after testing positive for the coronavirus.

The 28-year-old American was expected to battle with the Swedish world record-holder Armand Duplantis for the gold medal.

"Sam is an incredible and accomplished member of Team USA and his presence will be missed.” the US Olympics Committee said in a tweet.

Kendricks claimed the bronze medal at the Rio Olympics but won gold at the 2017 world championships in London and he retained his crown in Doha two years later.

Duplantis, who won silver in Qatar, said he had planned to meet Kendricks on Wednesday but could not make the rendez-vous.

"So that was a pretty lucky dodge right there," said the 21-year-old.

Competitors in the men's pole vault are renowned for being a tight-knit unit who celebrate each other's achievements.

The competition also lost German Chiaraviglio. The Argentine confirmed on social media that he was out of the Games after contracting the disease and was isolating in a hotel.

"It is very hard to process something like that," said the 34-year-old who won the South American championships in May. "It will take me a long time.

"Living through this is very hard but I know that this will also pass."

Chiaraviglio said he had a positive saliva test but negative PCR test after he arrived in Japan. 

On Wednesday, however, both tests - saliva and nasal - came back positive.

"We are all pretty spooked out right now," added Duplantis.

The athletics programme begins on Friday, with the pole vault qualifying event on Saturday.

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