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Sam Kendricks won’t defend world pole vault title; notable U.S. athletes not on world team

Sam Kendricks

12 September 2021, Berlin: Athletics: Meeting, ISTAF, International Stadium Festival at the Olympic Stadium, Decision: Pole Vault, Men: Sam Kendricks from the USA jumps an attempt. Photo: Andreas Gora/dpa (Photo by Andreas Gora/picture alliance via Getty Images)

dpa/picture alliance via Getty I

Sam Kendricks, the two-time reigning world pole vault champion, will miss the world track and field championships that start next week due to May 2 knee surgery.

Kendricks was among the notables not named to the U.S. roster for worlds in Eugene, Oregon.

Kendricks’ agent said the surgery to repair a meniscus was minor.

“We thought his recovery would have been much quicker but he’s had a few setbacks,” the agent said. “Sam didn’t feel he was in a position to compete for the medals.” first reported the reason for Kendricks’ absence.

Kendricks did not compete at last month’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, but had the option to petition onto the world team as a reigning world champion (which hurdler Daliliah Muhammad did). His most recent competition was April 8. He flew to Oslo for a June 16 Diamond League meet and withdrew before the event.

Kendricks won bronze at the 2016 Olympics, then back-to-back world titles and was expected to challenge world record holder Mondo Duplantis at the Tokyo Games. But he was ruled out of last year’s Olympic competition after testing positive for COVID while in Tokyo.

The 151-athlete U.S. roster is also without 400m sprinter Quanera Hayes, who won last year’s Olympic Trials and placed seventh in Tokyo. She was eliminated in the heats at nationals last month but had a bye onto the world team via winning last season’s Diamond League final.

No reason has been given for the absence of Hayes or Garrett Scantling, the national champion in the decathlon, or Micah Williams, who was fourth in the 100m, which would normally earn a spot in the 4x100m relay pool.

In May, Scantling posted the world’s best decathlon total this year, improving to seventh on the all-time world performer list. He was fourth at the Olympics.

Williams wasn’t named to the 4x100m pool, but two athletes who did not run the 100m at nationals did make a 4x100m pool -- Josephus Lyles, who was the top finisher in the men’s 200m to not make that team -- and Gabby Thomas, the Olympic 200m bronze medalist who was eighth in the 200m at nationals weeks after tearing a hamstring.

As expected, Allyson Felix made her record-extending 10th and final world championships team in the mixed-gender 4x400m relay pool. Felix was sixth in the 400m at nationals. The mixed 4x400m is the marquee final on the first night of worlds on July 15.

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