TOKYO, Japan — Editor's note: Video in the player above offers a recap of Tokyo Olympics events from July 28, 2021.
Another Northeast Ohio athlete will take center stage at the Tokyo Olympics later this week after receiving a call late Wednesday night to pack his bags and get to the Games.
Matt Ludwig of Chardon was called to compete as the alternate in US men’s pole vaulting after Sam Kendricks tested positive for COVID-19. Once he arrives in Tokyo, Ludwig is set to compete in the men’s pole vault competition when it begins Friday at 8:40 p.m. EST. You can watch him compete live by streaming the event HERE.
We caught up with Ludwig at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport early Thursday morning before catching his flight to Tokyo. Although he admitted to having no sleep, Ludwig added that the opportunity to compete is a "lifelong dream."
"It certainly hasn’t settled in yet," Ludwig told 3News. "We’ll see. It will get there, I’m sure I’ll process it at some point. I had entire lifelong goals to get to this point. It's a bit of a strange route to get here, but I’m just as excited and I don’t want to waste the opportunity.”
He also addressed the last-minute nature of his journey to the Tokyo Olympics.
“We’re sort of expected to be prepared as the alternates, but there’s a little bit of preparation that’s not exactly handled the same way, so finding out a day or two beforehand is quite stressful -- but we’ll make it.”
Ludwig, who attended Lake Catholic High School, is also a graduate of the University of Akron.
As for Kendricks, USA Track and Field issued the following statement on the situation:
Per the USOPC's announcement, U.S. pole vaulter Sam Kendricks has tested positive for COVID-19 and is therefore ineligible to compete at the Tokyo Games. He and his close contacts were immediately notified and protocols were activated to isolate the athlete. We are following the USOPC and TOCOG's guidance on next steps to ensure the safety of the remainder of our delegation, and to offer support to Sam.
Kendricks won a bronze medal in pole vaulting at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. His father posted that Kendricks “feels fine and has no symptoms.”